Bad Moon Rising

In life, a lot depends on what you find.

Dinner will be decided when you open the freezer. Your evening's entertainment is predicated by what's on TV. Tomorrow might be scheduled, but minute-by-minute will depend on what you find. And if you're Sheriff Heidi Kick in the new novel "Bad Moon Rising" by John Galligan, you might find a few dead bodies.

The guy laying in the ditch had had a rough few hours before he expired.

His body was covered with bug bites, and stings from wild parsnip growing along the sideroads in Bad Axe County. He'd gone unwashed for awhile; he was half-naked, with a rubber boot on one foot, two gunshot wounds in his body, and dirt in his lungs. When the county coroner told Kick that the man had been buried alive, well, it made her sick to her stomach.

That, or she was pregnant again, though she prayed hard that the latter wasn't true. She and her husband, Harley, were having enough trouble with one of their twin boys. She needed another baby like she needed another missing person case.

Leroy "Grape" Fanta had seen action in Vietnam, was injured and exposed to Agent Orange, came home, and ended up in Small Town Wisconsin to become a newspaperman. Covering the southwest Wisconsin area was all he knew and what he'd loved until, and maybe as a part of her son, Barry's, campaign to kick Kick out of office and to be the next sheriff, Babette Rickreiner purchased the Bad Axe Broadcaster and Grape was fired.

He didn't die in Vietnam. No, the Rickreiners might've been the death of Grape Fanta, if his most prolific, most irritating Letters-to-the-Editor writer didn't beat them to it.

It was hot that summer; Bad Axe County had seen daily temps well over 100 degrees, but that was okay with Sammy Squirrel. He barely even noticed, as he cinched his backpack and headed south out of LaCrosse.

Cassie, who lived in his head, called him a Chicken, but he was on a mission...

In your mind somewhere, there may be a checklist of things you need in a good mystery: a few gruesomely-dead bodies, for sure. A crimesolver who isn't squeaky-clean. Murder scenes that make you grimace, perhaps. And a sense of forboding, yes! all of which you'll find in "Bad Moon Rising."

It's that last one that'll get you.

Author John Galligan sets his latest novel down in a heatwave, complete with late-summer shawls of wriggling tree parasites – both of which are downright uncomfortable, even though they're placed off to the side of the story. Their presence make this tale feel ominous, as if it's sneaking up behind you, causing you to look over your shoulder or scratch a sudden, squirmy itch. Add a taunting texter and a soddy, as if the reason for the murders isn't enough to make you recoil.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves here. Just read the book. Read "Bad Moon Rising," and you'll find it to be quite the mystery.

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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