Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Second in Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery Series by Patricia Skalka Another Winner! Out June 23, 2015!

For the second time in three days, Cubiak made the drive north. Nature had not wasted time extending spring's verdant hue up the peninsula. Grass and trees were kissed with a rich halo of green. In Ephraim, golden forsythia bloomed alongside the crocuses and daffodils. Even the landscape past Sister Bay had shed its gloomy mantle.  Only the farthest tip of the land retained winter's somber tones.
The last mile to Huntsman's home was almost a repeat of Saturday: the statue-like gulls perched on the rocks, the barking dog still tethered to the willow. The only difference was the clothesline behind the Smitz house. Before, empty; now, laden with laundry: yellow checked sheets and pillowcases, two faded pink towels, several blouses, and a pair of men's long underwear, dingy from overuse and stiff with frost.  Cubiak started the turn into Huntsman's driveway when he braked and stopped. Something was different. On the other side of the road, three of the plumbing vans had been moved from the lot and parked bumper-to-bumper along the front of the building, obscuring the company logo. That's odd, Cubiak thought. As he walked over for a closer look, a woodpecker started hammering into the trunk of a nearby tree. Although the sheriff couldn't see the bird through the foliage, he sensed that his every move was being telegraphed through the forest. Leaning around the hood of the first van he discovered what was hidden behind the lineup of vehicles--a white wall defaced with angry strokes of red paint that spelled out a nasty farewell: Good Riddance.
Cubiak whistled quietly. The bird's staccato concert paused but began again when he picked up a stick and poked at the crimson streak that underlined the message. The paint was fresh. He looked around but the hard group yielded no footprints.
The vandals hadn't stopped with defacing the shed. At the Rec Room, they'd dislodged the cardboard from the broken window, smashed several other panes of glass, and made deep scratches in the picture window. The woodpecker transmitted a flurry of reports.
Two for two. Had the house been vandalized, as well? Had Ida been harmed? Cubiak was sure Walter would have said something if his mother had been injured. The sheriff passed the area where the bodies had been laid out the previous Saturday. The gazebo was unscathed but splotches of red paint bloomed like algae on the pier and the side of the power boat. The most spiteful damage was to the cabin cruiser in the sling where large red x's crossed over the name Ida Mae. Again the paint was still wet. And again there were no tracks in the damp grass. Had the vandals been so bold they'd used the brick walkway rather than cut across the lawn?
Walter waited at the back door...he blocked the sheriff's way.
"This was in the mail," he said, jabbing a white envelope at Cubiak. The envelope, a standard number ten, was unstamped, the address typed: Ida Nils Huntsman...Cubiak pulled a sheet of pale blue paper through the slit in the top of the envelope. 

Death at Gills Rock:
A Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery

By Patricia Skalka

There are two major things that attract me to Skalka's writing: She writes a great mystery... and she's chosen a wonderful setting which she uses to complement that mystery with almost a poetic prose that is so descriptive of the surrounding nature that readers are captured first by entering into place in the book, and only secondary on to what brings in the mystery... I think the above excerpt illustrates exactly what I mean!

It is obvious, for instance, that Dave Cubiak loves where he is now living and while he may be traveling to a crime scene, he cannot help noticing the surrounding beauty and sounds capture his interest and attention. For those who are lovers of God's natural beauty, Skalka helps us visualize her home first, and then moves on to carve out a mystery within the parameters of that setting. I have already become enchanted with Door County!

Check out my review of Death Stalks Door County for many more pictures than I have here, including a Fish Boil! Enjoy or refresh your memory of her first book!

Everybody had thought it had been a tragic accident...Three prominent businessmen had died of carbon monoxide poisoning during a card game in what they had called the Rec Room. What made it even sadder was that planning was already underway to honor the men for their military heroics as WWII veterans. It would be a loss to the whole town...

Or would it?

Cubiak had gotten there as soon as possible after they were found and he immediately began to notice things--like the door being locked from the inside, so that a window had to be broken to get in...

Like the initial inspection of the heater not showing any major problems, even though they did find a lot of leaves and debris in the bottom part of the outside pipe...

But what really was confusing was that in beginning the routine interviews with family and neighbors, he began to discover evidence of lies, deceit and possible criminal activities. How had these three men become so wealthy in comparison to those in the same type of town businesses?

The funeral was performed for all three at the same time--the men had been good friends since they were young, had been in the service together and it seemed appropriate to have just one, especially since it would be a full military honor service.

By then the messages that had been written had been discovered. But nobody could have planned for what happened as the after-service luncheon began!

Seconds later, there was a crash in the church basement, followed by a scream. Cubiak hurtled through the open doorway and down the stairs. In the cramped foyer, he collided with the woman in brown, who stood facing the three widows. The trio's black dresses dripped with red wormy strands and blood-like splotches. Pieces of crockery lay in a pool of red at their feet. 
Cubiak grabbed the woman in brown by the shoulders and spun her around. Her hands were smeared red as well. An ugly yellow bruise spread above her right eye.
"Who are you?" he said.
She blinked and said nothing.
Several men rushed from the dining hall but Rowe and Bathard elbowed past them into the entryway.
"Keep everyone inside. And close the doors," the sheriff told the deputy. 
While the doctor tended to the three stunned women, Cubiak propelled the assailant up the stairs into the church. The aroma of incense lingered in the air. Sunlight filtered through the stained-glass windows and lit the funeral flowers on the altar, creating an air of softness and peace.
"Who are you?"
"God's servant." The woman's voice was hard and defiant.
"What's this all about?"
"Justice. I killed the son-of-a-bitch."
"What do you mean? Who did you kill?"
"My husband. The man who ruined my life." The woman held her hands out as if expecting him to cuff her. "He got what he deserved. They all did.
"Who?" Cubiak said.
The woman spat on the floor. "All of them--four of a kind."

This is the type of mystery where you slowly pick up potential clues and possible suspects. But this story is so tightly woven, with so many different surprises that mystery fans will begin to despair of even grabbing at options that seem to make sense.

What was so intriguing to me, most of all, was the heartbreaking lies that had been told to family members and that's really all I can say without giving anything away...

While murder is the prime topic, with a total of five by the time they are all counted, there is some light romantic moments as Cubiak is dating while still missing one special young woman...and his best friend, the coroner, has decided to remarry, but still has some wavering discussions with Dave as the time grows near. There are some tender scenes between the two men as they work to restore an old boat, with Dave putting up with the mandated music that his friend supplies...

It was late afternoon when he got to Bathard's. The door to the boat barn was rolled back, and once again Bathard was on the scaffolding alongside the Parlando. A mallet in one hand and a black chisel-like tool in the other, he stared at the skylights and listened to Pavarotti...
Inside the barn, Bathard's phone vibrated on the counter, raising a small cloud of dust. He checked the screen. "Time for tea. Sonja and her granddaughters have been fussing in the kitchen all afternoon."
"I can't..."
"You must. You're the guest of honor."

These allowed for a comfortable closing for readers, while I have to say that I was completely satisfied with the ending of the murder investigations...

Cubiak is a formidable character--he is tenacious and driven as he investigates crime, but is endearing as his thoughts often flashes back to his wife and daughter who were killed, while he's trying to make some way for himself for the future--a lonely man who readers will all be looking forward to becoming a much happier man in future books!

This second novel stepped up the quality of the mystery--will Skalka be able to continue to satisfy the fans with such top quality, for those who are already reading her? Somehow I have no doubt that her writing and stories will continue to get better and better. Watch this relatively new fiction author and get caught up with this fantastic series! You won't be sorry!


Couldn't pass this up when I saw the two - Stevie Wonder and Pavarotti! Wow!


The Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries pit a former troubled Chicago cop against a roster of clever killers on the Door County Peninsula in the heart of the Midwest. Set against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty, the series kicks off with Death Stalks Door County and continues with Death at Gills Rock.


Door County Peninsula juts out between the pristine waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan in northern Wisconsin. With 300 miles of scenic shoreline, five wooded state parks and a collection of quaint, waterfront villages, the area is a mecca for artists, musicians, outdoor enthusiasts and tourists. Every year, some two million visitors come to Door County, the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.”

Patricia Skalka is the author of Death Stalks Door County and Death at Gills Rock, the first two books in the popular Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery series.

Skalka, a Chicago writer, turned to fiction following a successful career in nonfiction. Her many credits include: Staff Writer for Reader’s Digest, freelancer, ghost writer, writing instructor and book reviewer.

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