“Lean, eloquent prose . . . an intricate web of deceit and revenge.”John Smolens, author of Cold and Quarantine
“A mesmerizing mystery, bucolic setting, bodies dropping everywhere, plenty of prime suspects, and in Dave Cubiak, a man with a tragic past, the right guy to solve it.”Charles Salzberg, author of Shamus Award–nominated Swann's Last Song and Devil in the Hole
“A terrific mystery that captures both the beauty and wildness of this wonderful peninsula.”Mary Logue, author of the Claire Watkins mystery series
“Can a big-city cop solve a series of murders whose only witnesses may be the hemlocks? An atmospheric debut.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Murder seems unseemly in Door County, a peninsula covered in forests, lined by beaches, and filled with summer cabins and tourist resorts. That’s the hook for murder-thriller Death Stalks Door County, the first in a series involving ranger Dave Cubiak, a former Chicago homicide detective.”—Milwaukee Shepherd Express
“A satisfyingly complex plot . . . showcasing one of the main characters, Wisconsin’s beautiful Door County. A great match for Nevada Barr fans.”—Library Journal
“Skalka’s descriptions of the atmosphere of the villages and spectacular scenery will resonate with readers who have spent time on the Door Peninsula. . . . [She] plans to continue disturbing the peace in Door County for quite a while, which should be a good thing for readers.”—Chicago Book Review
“The puzzle is a difficult one to solve, with suspicion continually shifting as more evidence is uncovered. . . . An impressive first novel.”—Mystery Scene
The wilderness of Door County, Wis., “the Midwest’s magnificent answer to Cape Cod,” provides the backdrop for Skalka’s tight, lyrical first novel. Homicide detective Dave Cubiak, in drunken despair after the accidental deaths of his wife and daughter, flees Chicago for Door County, where he becomes a park ranger. Just before the Fourth of July Festival, six people die in quick succession. J. Dugan Beck, head of the Peninsula State Park citizens advisory board, is bent on keeping things quiet so as not to jeopardize the summer tourist trade; he pressures the reluctant Cubiak to dig into the deep-seated personal enmities that seethe beneath the surface of the long-standing debate between those who favor conservation and those who prefer development. To the author’s credit, Skalka matches the untamed nature of the peninsula to the roughness of its inhabitants rather than contrasting its natural beauty to human violence. (May)
Summer tourism in Door County, WI, dominates the local economy, and a serial killer isn't going to help. Six unexplained—and dramatically different—deaths mar the normally tranquil atmosphere. Despite the crime wave, the local big man around town insists that the upcoming Fourth of July festivities not be curtailed. This guy has big development dreams, and he's not about to let a few deaths slow him down. The state park has added former cop Dave Cubiak to its staff as an assistant ranger, but he's a drunken mess, grieving over the tragic deaths of his family back in Chicago. Thankfully, Cubiak is shaken out of his morass in time to focus on the present-day drama. Through careful questioning he learns more about the locals, seeing that multigenerational histories carry long vendettas. VERDICT Skalka's debut shows tremendous potential. Once readers get past a couple of grim opening chapters, the novel just takes off. The author concocts a satisfyingly complex plot while showcasing one of the main characters, Wisconsin's beautiful Door County. A great match for Nevada Barr fans.
A Chicago ex-cop seeks solace in a Wisconsin forest. Even after the thug who mowed down his wife and daughter has been tried and convicted, Dave Cubiak can't shake the sadness of his loss. So his partner, Malcolm, jawbones him into a yearlong stint as a ranger in Peninsula State Park, a finger of land jutting into Green Bay. With only surly Otto Johnson and aging housekeeper Ruta Lapkritis for company in Jensen Station, Dave is on his own much of the time. He still broods, and he still drinks too much, but he starts to enjoy the routine and the beauty of the woods. Then a series of deaths shatters the landscape. A young man is found dead at the foot of the park's observation tower. A teenager is hacked to death with an ax. A local fisherman is blown up on his boat. Two cyclists are slashed by piano wire strung between trees. Otto wants to cancel the annual spring festival that brings waves of tourists into the park. But local businessmen, led by J. Dugan Beck, whose family made a fortune in beer, browbeat Sheriff Halverson into letting the festivities continue. Beck also hires Dave privately to investigate. His sleuthing brings him into close contact with Door County's leading citizens: coroner Evelyn Bathard and his frail wife, Cornelia; baker Martha Smithson; fiber artist Ruby Schumacher; and her photographer niece, Cate, who might be inclined to offer Dave her own brand of consolation. Can a big-city cop solve a series of murders whose only witnesses may be the hemlocks? An atmospheric debut with enough twists to tempt puzzle aficionados.