Book Review: Death Washes Ashore by Patricia Skalka @PatriciaSkalka @UWiscPress

Death Washes Ashore
A Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery #6
Patricia Skalka
University of Wisconsin Press, April 2021
ISBN 978-0-299-32820-7

A huge storm has hit the shores of Lake Michigan, washing all sorts of strange objects ashore. One of them is a knight in full armor, and he is very dead. Called away from cleaning debris from his own piece of storm worried beachfront, Sheriff Dave Cubiak can’t help but wonder why a man would go out in a boat in a storm wearing a full set of medieval armor. The answer is, he wouldn’t. Murder is indicated. The first step to solving the problem is discovering the man’s identity and where he came from. Only then can Cubiak discover why he was murdered and who wanted him dead.

Several people, as it happens.

As usual in a Cubiak mystery, we meet many suspicious characters as the story unfolds. Also as we often do, a great many of them have motives and opportunity, and are apt to be unpleasant characters perhaps worthy of murder themselves. It’s up to Cubiak, helped by his loyal deputy, whom with insight and proper sleuthing, gets to the bottom of the knight’s murder.

Always well-written, a good many twists enliven what could’ve been a bit repetitious and slow.

I’d never heard of larping. However, I’ve now learned Live Action Role Playing, in which enthusiasts don costumes and props associated with a particular fantasy world or historical period, and act out the roles of their characters, is very much a thing. So thank you, author Patricia Skalka, for teaching this reader something new.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, July 2021.
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Six Dancing Damsels: A China Bohannon Mystery

Book Review: Death by the Bay by Patricia Skalka—and a Giveaway! @PatriciaSkalka @UWiscPress

Death by the Bay
A Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery #5
Patricia Skalka
University of Wisconsin Press, May 2019
ISBN: 978-0-299-32310-3

Door County Sheriff Dave Cubiak is at a hotel restaurant having lunch with old Doc Bathard, the retired coroner, when screams ring out. Apparently, The Institute for Progressive Medicine is holding its annual conference in the hotel, and a very important man has had a heart attack and fallen down dead. As if this isn’t enough, soon another scream leads Cubiak to another room, where a Hispanic cleaning woman is weeping and pointing to a photo on the wall. Since she’s speaking Spanish, Cubiak doesn’t understand what’s she’s saying, but since this room is also part of the Progressive Medicine Institute’s conference, he’s for darn sure going to find out. When the dead’s man’s autopsy provides suspicion of murder, the hunt is on as Cubiak, Bathard, and Deputy Mike Rowe dig through old history.

The story premise is a sad one–think of the days when lobotomies were performed. In this case, children with disabilities of various sorts were taken from their families and never seen again. What happened to them is only part of the mystery. Finding who is taking vengeance now is the mystery that needs solved. Cubiak depends on solid police work and a bit of intuition to finally discover the culprit.

The setting, on the shores of Lake Michigan and Green Bay, lends itself to mysterious doings. Very atmospheric throughout. The characters are well fleshed out and clear. Cubiak is a deep thinker, compassionate when called for, relentless when it comes to bringing miscreants to justice. The story is fast-paced, well-written and entirely feasible in its outcome.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, August 2019.
Author of Five Days, Five Dead, Hereafter and Hometown Homicide.


To enter the drawing for a hardcover
copy of Death by the Bay, just leave a
comment below. The winning name will
be drawn Friday evening, September 27th.
Open to residents of the US and Canada.

Book Review: Death Rides the Ferry by Patricia Skalka

Death Rides the Ferry
A Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery #2
Patricia Skalka
University of Wisconsin Press, May 2018
ISBN 978-0-299-31800-0

Door County Sheriff Dave Cubiak becomes involved in a forty-year-old mystery when a woman no one knows is cleverly murdered. On a ferry crossing between Washington Island and the Door County peninsula, no less, which provides some difficult motive, means, and opportunity questions for Cubiak to solve. Her murder comes at a bad time, since the island is hosting an important music festival featuring the viola da gamba, an instrument similar to a cello. Forty years ago, during the first festival held on the island, an extremely revered instrument dating from the sixteenth century had been stolen. It isn’t long until Cubiak finds connections between this murder and that theft.

A second murder, perpetrated in the same odd manner, and also taking place on a ferry, draws in many of the same people from forty years ago. But when Cubiak’s wife, Cate, is threatened, the sheriff’s hunt for a murderer becomes personal.

Author Patricia Skalka is a master at evoking the atmosphere of a summer vacation island. One can almost feel the water lapping at one’s feet, and the mash of waves against a boat’s hull. The music, the vendors, and the diversity of people create an ambiance almost palpable.

The people, both victims and those who’d harm them, are not exactly bastions of society. Apparently everyone has secrets to hide and agendas they are determined to fulfill.

But Cubiak, his deputy, and his wife, Cate, are all tip-top people you’d want to know and root for. The personal life of Cubiak and Cate figure into the plot as well, so there’s something for everyone.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, August 2018.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder, Four Furlongs and Hometown Homicide.

Book Review: Death Stalks Door County by Patricia Skalka

Death Stalks Door CountyDeath Stalks Door County
A Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery #1
Patricia Skalka
Uni. of Wisconsin Press, March 2016
ISBN: 978-0-299-29944-6
Trade Paperback

Dave Cubiak, a former Chicago homicide detective, goes off the rails after his wife and daughter are killed in a freakish accident with a drunk driver. Guilt is eating him alive as he’d blown off a family outing because he’d argued with his wife. Taking refuge in drink himself, the day comes when he can no longer function at his job. Forced to quit, his Chicago partner persuades him to take a job as a park ranger on the Door Peninsula on Lake Michigan. After about three months, the summer season arrives. Hordes of tourists and vacationers arrive to crowd the area.

And so does murder, one right after another. The perpetrator could be anybody and the county sheriff seems, at the behest of the local bigwig, more interested in covering up the crimes than solving them. Cubiak must use all his former talents to work through and find the one with the most lethal motive.

I don’t enjoy reading about alcoholics and their disease. In this case, just as I about got fed up with Cubiak and his problems, he finally broke through, with the aid of a lost child. I found that a nice touch. From this point, the action moved swiftly. I loved the north woods setting and atmosphere. The writing is good, the list of suspects interesting, the environmental aspects well done. I didn’t fall in love with any of the characters, but found them all integral to the story, adding to the entertainment value. I do recommend the book.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, July 2016.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder and Four Furlongs.