Open this book and you are in Door County, Wisconsin, strolling down Coot Lake Road—a one-lane, dead-end gravel track just a few miles from Baileys Harbor and the Lake Michigan shore. Along the way you meet George and Helen O’Malley, who are growing old gracefully. Russell, their brave and empathetic golden retriever, wags hello and offers you a paw to shake.
The Olsons and the Berges live just down the road. Bump Olson is the local septic tank pumper and birdwatcher extraordinaire, and Hans Berge, MD, PhD, was at one time the only Norwegian psychiatrist in Chicago—or so he says. In a cottage out by the highway, you may spot Lloyd Barnes, ex–Tennessee state trooper, hound fancier, and local man of mystery. Uncle Petter Sorenson, visiting from Grand Forks, takes the polar bear plunge at Jacksonport. Around the neighborhood you’ll meet Deputy Doug, the flirtatious cellist Debbie Dombrowski, and Italian import Rosa Zamboni.
Dave Crehore’s sketches of life on the Door peninsula also expound on:
• the delights of codfish pizza
• how to insult Canadians
• what to expect at your fiftieth high school reunion
• how to lose a school board election
• the prevention of creeping old-fogyism
• Marilyn, a buxom eight-pound smallmouth bass
• and what goes on in the winter, when no one is there.
After tracking a clever killer in Death Stalks Door County, park ranger and former Chicago homicide detective Dave Cubiak is elected Door County sheriff. His newest challenge arrives as spring brings not new life but tragic death to the isolated fishing village of Gills Rock. Three prominent World War II veterans, about to be honored for their military heroics, die from carbon monoxide poisoning during a weekly card game.
Blame falls to a faulty heater but Cubiak puzzles over details. When one of the widows receives a message claiming the men "got what they deserved," he realizes that there may be more to the deaths than a simple accident.
Investigating, Cubiak discovers that the men's veneer of success and respectability hides an intricate web of lies, betrayal, and treachery.
In a dark, moody tale that spans more than half a century and hopscotches across the peninsula, Cubiak encounters a host of suspects with motives for murder. Amid broken dreams, corruption, and loss, he sorts out the truth.
Death at Gills Rock is the second book in the Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery series.
Death by the Bay
Patricia Skalka University of Wisconsin Press, 2019 Library of Congress PS3619.K34D38 2019 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
On a chilly Monday in late spring, Sheriff Dave Cubiak is at the Green Arbor Lodge for lunch when a scream from a nearby medical conference disrupts the scene. Leaping into action, he finds the ninety-three-year-old director of the prestigious Institute for Progressive Medicine collapsed on the floor, dead of a suspected heart attack. As Cubiak interrogates the witnesses, he’s struck by the inconsistencies in their stories. Some evade questions while others offer contradictory statements. Then suddenly another scream pierces the air. . . . Past and present merge as long-buried secrets rise to the surface. The resourceful sheriff must rely on his skills and wits, along with the advice and memories of friends and family, to uncover the dark truth behind the Institute for Progressive Medicine. Dedicated and new fans alike will find themselves captivated by this intelligently plotted story as Cubiak untangles the twisted threads of this intricate mystery.
Death in Cold Water
Patricia Skalka University of Wisconsin Press, 2018 Library of Congress PS3619.K34D39 2016 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
On a bracing autumn day in Door County, a prominent philanthropist disappears. Is the elderly Gerald Sneider—known as "Mr. Packer" for his legendary support of Green Bay football—suffering from dementia or just avoiding his greedy son? Is there a connection to threats against the National Football League? As tourists flood the peninsula for the fall colors, Sheriff Dave Cubiak's search for Sneider is stymied by the FBI. When human bones wash up on the Lake Michigan shore, the sheriff has more to worry about than a missing man.
Death Rides the Ferry
Patricia Skalka University of Wisconsin Press, 2018 Library of Congress PS3619.K34D426 2018 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
It’s a sparkling August day on Washington Island and the resonant notes of early classical music float on the breeze toward the sailboats and ferries that ply the waters of Death’s Door strait. After a forty-year absence, the Viola da Gamba Music Festival has returned to the picturesque isle on the tip of Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula. Sheriff Dave Cubiak enjoys a rare day off as tourists and a documentary film crew hover around the musicians.
The jubilant mood sours when an unidentified passenger is found dead on a ferry. Longtime residents recall with dismay the disastrous festival decades earlier, when another woman died and a valuable sixteenth-century instrument—the fabled yellow viol—vanished, never to be found.
Cubiak follows a trail of murder, kidnapping, and false identity that leads back to the calamitous night of the twin tragedies. With the lives of those he holds most dear in peril, the sheriff pursues a ruthless killer into the stormy northern reaches of Lake Michigan.
Death Stalks Door County
Patricia Skalka University of Wisconsin Press, 2016 Library of Congress PS3619.K34D43 2014 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Six deaths mar the holiday mood as summer vacationers enjoy Wisconsin’s beautiful Door County peninsula. Murders, or bizarre accidents? Newly hired park ranger Dave Cubiak, a former Chicago homicide detective, assumes the worst but refuses to get involved. Grief-stricken and guilt-ridden over the loss of his wife and daughter, he’s had enough of death.
Forced to confront the past, the morose Cubiak moves beyond his own heartache and starts investigating, even as a popular festival draws more people into possible danger. In a desperate search for clues, Cubiak uncovers a tangled web of greed, betrayal, bitter rivalries, and lost love beneath the peninsula’s travel-brochure veneer. Befriended by several locals but unsure whom to trust or to suspect of murder, the one-time cop tracks a clever killer.
In a setting of stunning natural beauty and picturesque waterfront villages, Death Stalks Door County introduces a new detective series, “The Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries.”
Finalist, Traditional Fiction 2014 Book of the Year Award, Chicago Writers Association
Death Washes Ashore
Patricia Skalka University of Wisconsin Press, 2021 Library of Congress PS3619.K34D435 2021 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
In the wake of a brutal storm that lashed the Door County peninsula, Sheriff Dave Cubiak assesses the damage: broken windows, downed trees, and piles of mysterious debris along the shoreline. He leaves the comfort of his home and heads out into the aftermath, checking in with folks along the way to offer help. His assistant, marooned at the justice center overnight, calls with an ominous message about a body discovered on the beach. When the medical examiner discovers the man didn’t simply drown during the storm, Cubiak searches for answers.
Chasing leads, the sheriff learns the victim directed a troupe of live-action role players living in an ersatz Camelot. In a setting where pretense in the norm, Cubiak must determine if suspects are who they say they are or if their made-up identities conceal a ruthless killer. As tensions escalate among neighbors unhappy about the noise and commotion, the sheriff discovers that more than one person on the peninsula has a motive for murder.
A picturesque peninsula with 298 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, state parks, forests, and cozy inns, Door County is one of the Midwest’s prime tourist attractions. Magill Weber explores the many recreational opportunities available to visitors, including secret spots known only to locals and longtime seasonal residents. Wisconsin native Janet Mrazek contributes 125 detailed and easy-to-follow maps. With suggestions of more than 150 scenic hikes, biking and paddling routes, end-of-the-road beaches, lighthouses, and wildlife-watching sites, and descriptions of the local flora and fauna, Door County Outdoors is the ultimate guide for active travelers and nature enthusiasts.