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Vermin Vengeance: Entomologist Pens Second Murder-Mystery


University of Wyoming professor Jeffrey A. Lockwood, an entomologist-turned-fiction writer announced the publication of “Murder on the Fly” — the second installment in his “Riley the Exterminator” mystery series.

Lockwood’s latest book is a follow up to his 2016 murder-mystery “Poisoned Justice,” which features Riley, whom he described as a PCO who makes no apologies for “killing what needs killing.”

Lockwood provides the following description of his newest book: “In terms of science it’s about the Mediterranean fruit fly and what this pest could do to American agriculture. In terms of history, it’s about an outbreak of the Medfly 36 years ago, the occupation of Alcatraz by ‘Indians of All Tribes’ 47 years ago, and the Indian Relocation Act that was implemented 61 years ago. In terms of philosophy, it’s about trying to understand: how we know if a living being belongs somewhere; what makes a species or a people native/indigenous; and when it’s right to remove invasive creatures...”

In addition to trying to provide readers with a good story, Lockwood said he’s tried to weave in elements of entomology and ethics. “My hope is that folks will discover some unexpected features of the natural world and encounter some abiding qualities of the moral sphere — while enjoying the trials and tribulations of Riley, his ragtag workmates, and an alluring woman from his past.”

Lockwood has worked for nearly 20 years as an entomologist, starting with graduate studies at Louisiana State University, where from his mobile home he experienced first-hand encounters with cockroaches, fleas, flour beetles and a home-invader opossum. As a professor at the University of Wyoming, he’s developed better ways to kill legions of grasshoppers across expanses of rangeland. He says he “also discovered that the field of pest management is tailor-made for crime noir.”

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