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Death Stalks Door County

Patricia Skalka

Publication Year: 2014

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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Author's Note

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pp. vii-1

Door County is real. While I used the peninsula as the framework for the book, I also altered some details and added others to fit the story. The spirit of this majestic place remains unchanged.

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1. Week One: Sunday

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pp. 3-17

He ran in the early morning, floating like a specter amid the tall, wet pines of the Wisconsin forest. His thick hair curled from the mist. His lungs burned. His breath stank of beer and cigarettes. At the road, he stopped and swiped his glasses on his baggy sweatshirt. Late June, and the damp, cold spring had yet to give way to...

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2. Monday

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pp. 18-30

Fueled by too much coffee and too little sleep, Cubiak headed south to Sturgeon Bay. After a tortured night, he’d risen early and singed his lungs on a grueling five- mile run. Besides alcohol, which helped him forget, physical activity was his only other defense against the remorse that defined his life. He needed to keep moving. At breakfast he finished...

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3. Tuesday

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pp. 31-42

In the multi-ethnic European neighborhood where Cubiak grew up, death was a powerful magnet. When someone reached the end, both close friends and casual acquaintances endured the wake as a show of respect. From the receiving line, mourners moved to the lounge for a roast beef sandwich or a slice of homemade cake and then to a private...

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4. Wednesday

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pp. 43-51

Cubiak drove with the front windows down, hoping the cool night air would keep him alert and blow away the remnants of Cate’s perfume. He was glad he’d annoyed her. He didn’t want to think of her because she made him think of Lauren, and he missed his wife to the point of pain.
More sober than drunk, he rolled...

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5. Thursday

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pp. 52-58

Alice Jones was buried quickly and with little fanfare. Funeral services were held in a modest, cement- block evangelical church, a few blocks from the shipyards. The walls and ceiling of the claustrophobic sanctuary were desperate for a fresh coat of paint. And despite the best efforts of two tall radiators that hissed quietly in the background, an aura of...

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6. Friday

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pp. 59-63

Cubiak was irked that he’d acquiesced to Beck, but he’d been too numbed by alcohol and sadness to argue. Grudgingly, he coasted downhill into Ephraim, trailing the remnants of an early evening storm. Low, wind-driven clouds scudded inland over the sleepy village, backdrop for a pale rainbow that arched over the gray chop of the town’s U-shaped...

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7. Saturday

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pp. 64-78

Under cover of night, Door County got its miracle. The prayers said, the candles lit, the silent supplications to the gods of land and sea paid off. In the impenetrable dark, an invisible force lifted the shroud of gloom from the peninsula and from among the general populace vanquished the last lingering concerns about death and bad weather. Daylight...

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8. Week Two: Sunday Morning

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pp. 79-83

Cubiak woke with a bad feeling and an even worse hangover. Dragging himself from bed, he tried to burn away both afflictions with a punishing hot shower. He knew Bathard was disappointed with him. Wasn’t everyone? He’d fallen far short of his mother’s expectations, failed his wife and daughter in the worst possible way, and walked out on his...

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9. Sunday Afternoon

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pp. 84-95

Under a cloudless sky, the bay at Ephraim assumed a blue tint of breath-taking intensity. In the calm and near perfect conditions, a flotilla of sailboats, kayaks, and one lone canoe was on the water. When the canoe disappeared around an outcropping of rocks, Cubiak stepped off the dock. He didn’t like the way Beck had manipulated the meeting the...

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10. Monday Morning

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pp. 96-108

Cubiak crawled out of a soft canyon of sleep and for a long while remained motionless as if stitched to the bed by threads of slumber. He had forgotten the weighty luxuriousness of such intense repose. When the final remnants of inertia dissipated, he rolled onto his side, swung his feet to the floor, and pushed upright. The room took a moment to...

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11. Monday Evening

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pp. 109-122

Fish Creek was thick with tourists, and, in the hubbub, Cubiak nearly missed seeing the coroner near the side entrance of Babe and Ray’s, one of the town’s most popular supper clubs. Bathard had his arm around the shoulder of one woman and was talking to another. The ranger ditched the jeep behind Evangeline Davis’s diner and caught up with...

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12. Tuesday

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pp. 123-133

The rangers were at breakfast when the phone rang. Ruta took the call. “For you,” she said, handing the receiver to Cubiak.
It was Bathard.
Cubiak moved as far from the table as the cord allowed. “You were right. I was wrong,” he said, conscious of Johnson behind him stirring sugar into his coffee.
The coroner chuckled. “You were...

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13. Wednesday Morning

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pp. 134-143

Cubiak straddled a chair and watched Bathard stack boxes of bandages and gauze in the temporary first aid station at the Ephraim Village Hall. It was midmorning. The muffled noise of the waterfront crowd mixed with the smell of hot dogs and popcorn that drifted in through an open window.
“Any luck with Entwhistle?” Bathard...

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14. Wednesday Afternoon

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pp. 144-156

Cubiak was heading back to Jensen Station when a silver Corvette cruised through the park entrance and halted in a patch of bright sun. Despite having Wisconsin plates, the vintage car shimmered like an apparition from a Beach Boys song.
The driver’s window lowered, and a woman turned and waved. Her blond hair combined with dark...

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15. Thursday Morning

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pp. 157-166

Cubiak found a note from Ruta on his desk. “Beck’s house 11.”
What the hell? Cubiak thought. There hadn’t been time at Ruby’s opening for him to tell Beck about the Conservation League meeting, but he couldn’t imagine that with the festival moving into its second day, he’d be summoned to the house for that.
Heavy traffic made...

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16. Thursday Afternoon

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pp. 167-183

Free from the congestion around Sturgeon Bay, Cubiak skated up the spine of the peninsula on the county’s two-lane back roads. The route was marked by cherry orchards and hay fields, by cows grazing lazily in open pastures, and by the weathered barns that denoted the failed farms and the occasional silo clusters that earmarked the ones that were...

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17. Thursday Evening

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pp. 184-192

When Cubiak coasted into Beck’s driveway, the only light on in the mansion was in Beck’s downstairs corner office. Through an uncurtained window, the ranger saw Beck. He was on the phone, striding back and forth. He was ebullient, smiling and gesturing grandly. Why not? So far everything had gone the way he had predicted.
Earlier, after he’d...

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18. Friday

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pp. 193-202

An hour after dawn, the grand boats began slipping into the Ephraim harbor. With a steaming cup of black coffee for company, Cubiak paced the dock and watched the windjammers motor in. Sails down and masts gleaming, the magnificent vessels strained against the water like nervous thoroughbreds waiting for the signal to let...

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19. Saturday Morning

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pp. 203-207

Cubiak rose with the crows and ran an abbreviated track through the woods near Jensen Station. The forest was cool and quiet save for the birds, and the treetops shone like ebony against the wash of bright sky. Peninsula Park Golf Course was groomed and trimmed, ready for the festival tournament later that day. Below, the harbor’s warm water...

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20. Saturday Afternoon

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pp. 208-216

At twelve noon, the phone rang in the kitchen at Jensen Station. While Ruta jotted down the information provided by the soft- spoken gentleman at the other end of the line, a piercing air- horn blast heralded the start of the annual Peninsula State Park Golf Tournament. On the clubhouse patio, the crowd of spectators stood and cheered. Cubiak...

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21. Saturday Evening

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pp. 217-219

By dusk, a ridge of dark clouds had blown up over Green Bay. The gray gloom blotted out the sunset and cast a pall over the peninsula. The day visitors had fled, along with many of the weekly and long-term guests. Those who hadn’t yet left huddled behind locked doors at their cottages, hotels, and condos. Ephraim was deserted. So, too, were...

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22. Week Three: Sunday

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pp. 220-236

Under a leaden, windswept sky, Cubiak headed north. The roads were empty, the resort towns unnervingly still.
“I am sick at heart at what I must do now. There is no satisfaction in solving this crime,” Dutch had written in his notebook when he’d identified the killer. The same heavy, unhappy sentiment dragged at Cubiak. Late the previous...

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23. Lastly

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pp. 237-244

Ruby’s body, what remained of it, was recovered by divers and dispatched to Madison for autopsy. As officials awaited the results, the peninsula pulsated with harrowing stories of her misdeeds. Bathard called a hurried preliminary inquest to quell the worst rumors and ease the public’s fears, but wild tales lingered like shadows in the evening...

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pp. 245-246

During one of my first visits to Door County, Wisconsin, I sat on the Lake Michigan shore as a deep mysterious quiet settled over the peninsula. Anything can happen here, I thought. Indeed much did. Cozy Thanksgiving celebrations. Summer days of long walks and kayaking and creating castles and candles in the sand. Beach fires with wine and...

E-ISBN-13: 9780299299439
E-ISBN-10: 0299299430
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299299408
Print-ISBN-10: 0299299406

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2014

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Subject Headings

  • Door County (Wis.) -- Fiction.
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