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Musky Run

Musky Run

Named Great Lakes Best Regional Fiction

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 258+ 5-Star Reviews

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Olympic medalist Anna MacDonald comes home to Namekagon County to emcee the Great Wilderness Race as predators stalk the Northwoods. While occasional interactions with potentially dangerous animals are old hat for most residents, this changes when unpredictable behavior patterns make it unclear who is the hunter and who is the hunted. Sheriff John Cabrelli and the new Musky Falls chief of police work swiftly to keep the community calm as they try to piece together the clues before it is too late. 

When an Olympic medalist goes missing in the Northwoods, Sheriff John Cabrelli and his team race to find her — especially with a dangerous predator prowling the land… 

An original, compelling and memorable read from cover to cover
— Midwest Book Review

Book 4 in the award-winning Northern Lakes Mystery series.

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Chapter 1 Look Inside

Change is an interesting thing. When I was a boy, change mostly described the three quarters in “walkin’ around” money I may have had in my pocket. I could buy a bag of semenses and a bottle of pop at DiSalvo’s grocery and still have change left. As I got older, I realized that change also meant things wouldn’t be the same as they were. Some changes I simply noticed in passing, like when the neighbor traded his old blue car for a newer red one. Others directly impacted me. When my best friend and nightcrawler hunting buddy moved to a new place over a hundred miles away, I was so sad I couldn’t even say goodbye. It soon became apparent that things would change whether I liked it or not. Change was constant, sometimes for the good and sometimes not so good. Sometimes I had a say in it, and sometimes I didn’t.When faced with change, I often find myself reluctant to embrace it. Those near and dear to me tend to attribute that to my innate stubbornness. I, however, maintain that all changes that may impact you should be evaluated and judged on their individual merit. Only a fool rushes headlong to embrace change without knowing the consequences, and try as I might to avoid it, I have sometimes joined the rank and file of fools. After a bone-chilling northern Wisconsin winter, people were hoping for a little taste of warm weather in March. The old saying is, “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.” In this case, it came in like a lion and left like one. Two days of violent windstorms knocked swathes of standing timber down like bowling pins. After the storm, it seemed like every chainsaw in Namekagon County was running at full speed. Skid steers found their way through to unblock roads and driveways. Wood was loaded on trailers and hauled away, destined to become next year’s biofuel. During the second week in April, folks were rewarded with nighttime temperatures that only occasionally touched the freezing point. Daytime temperatures reached the balmy forties and fifties and solidified hope with three sixty-degree days. The accumulated snow began to melt in earnest, recharging lakes and streams. People were out and about, and even a curmudgeon couldn’t help but have a smile. Global climate change concerns were set aside, and folks just enjoyed some warm weather. When June rolled around, permanent residents and visitors were ready for the weather the north country was famous for. Change was in the air in Namekagon County. The Chamber of Commerce had scored big this year, and the Great Wilderness Race, held every two years, was coming to the Northwoods. Top teams from across the country came to compete. The main event was still ten days away, but there was a week of activities leading up to the actual race, including fat tire bike races, kayak and canoe races, and ending with a local craft beer contest. As I walked from the sheriff’s office over to Crossroads Coffee Shop to meet up with Len Bork, the soon-to-be-retired chief of the Musky Falls Police Department, I watched as the local theater prepared their windows for the bi-annual Great Wilderness Race Film Festival with independent film producers competing for a production contract. I got a cup of coffee and sat at a table outside in the morning sun to wait. Len had taken over as the chief during the most difficult of times, and his dedication to the community and courage had saved many lives. For Len, it was also time for a change. Over thirty years in law enforcement meant over thirty years of his wife, Martha, waiting for him to come home, and she finally put her foot down. Musky Falls was getting a new chief of police. “Hey, John, sorry I’m a little late,” Len said. “I have been stuck in the office going over everything that needs to get done before the new chief comes on board. My Lord, the piles of paperwork are two feet thick.” “Isn’t the tradition to leave it for the next chief?” “You know I could, John, but I won’t. I will not leave a big mess for someone else to clean up. I want the new chief to be able to hit the ground running, not waddling around burdened with three-year-old requisition forms, budget requests, and unfounded reports.”“That’s a chance you never got, Len. Man, when you took over, you had your hands full from day one. It’s a miracle we all survived.”“God was sitting on our shoulders. That is the truth. Speaking of that, isn’t the final duty fitness report for Jim Rawsom coming out this week?” “It is a closed-door session at one o’clock Friday. Just me, Jim and his family, the county risk manager, and the board chairman,” I explained. “Jim was offered a full medical retirement. He didn’t turn them down but said he wanted to see this through to its natural end. He’s been keeping up with his daily physical therapy and is making a lot of progress. He looks better than he has in a long time.” “I heard the surgeries for the head wound went very well, and the only issue is that he has to wear glasses with a corrective lens for his right eye,” Len said. “Martha and I pray for him and his family every night. He is a man that deserves the best.”“That he does, Len. That he does,” I replied.We sat quietly for a moment in our own thoughts. Then the chief spoke up. “Now that I’ve got you here, Martha wanted me to pump you for information about the wedding planning. How’s it going?”I was determined to handle my end of the wedding planning. My wife-to-be was a very smart, capable, wonderful person. As a result, I needed to step up and work hard to become one of those creatures known as the evolved man. To that end, I made it my goal to be involved in wedding planning every step of the way. “Fine, Len. Just fine.”“Are you still evolving?”“I am, and it is going well. I think Julie is happy with all my help. Just the other day, I suggested we pick a puce border for the invitations, when not too long ago, I didn’t even know there was a color called puce.”Len rarely offered advice unless asked, but he decided to break that rule. “John, my friend, your evolutionary goals are admirable and well-intentioned. But if you really want to marry Julie, butt out of the wedding plans. If she wants you to do something, she’ll let you know. Otherwise, you’re just in the way.”“I know you might think that, and I appreciate your advice, but with Julie and me, it’s different,” I replied, and then quickly changed the subject. “Any more thoughts about what you are going to do after retirement?”“I have had some ideas. The folks at the Happy Hooker Bait and Tackle offered to set me up to guide and work at their general store part-time. Taking people out on the quiet lakes sounds like it might be fun. To start with, though, I am just going to be retired for a while and see how long Martha can stand having me underfoot. She continues to mention many potential volunteer opportunities with the Women’s League at the church. It’s a funny coincidence that all the shooting I have done over the years has affected my hearing, and for some reason, it just gets worse when she mentions all that. So, we’ll have to see where we end up. I’ve got a couple of ideas of my own, but nothing for sure. For now, I am looking forward to doing some fishing this spring. Plus, a few projects are sitting in my shop waiting for some attention, like a beauty of a little Parker 20 gauge that has been halfway restored for ten years. I’d like it to be my grouse gun come next fall and am looking forward to taking it out. In my opinion, it’s the best American double ever made.”“I look forward to taking you up on your promise to take me bird hunting. Depending on how it goes with Jim on Friday, I may have all sorts of time,” I said.“John, what are you going to do if Jim doesn’t return to work? Are you going to stay on as sheriff?”“I’ve given it a lot of thought, Len. If he doesn’t return, I’ll stay on the job for now. As far as becoming the real sheriff, I don’t know. Among other things, I would have to run for election before too long. I have no urge whatsoever to run for any kind of political office. So, I would have to do some thinking.”“Well, if you did run for sheriff, you’d be elected in a landslide. People around here owe you an enormous debt, and they won’t forget that. Would they let you stay until the end of the current term?”“That’s up to the governor. From what I know, he could call for a special election right away. I guess we’ll just wait and see what happens.”A gentle fresh spring breeze was blowing, both of us keenly aware change was in the wind. We sat quietly and drank our coffee. Neither of us knew for sure what the next stop would be. Len was one of the finest law enforcement officers I had ever known. We had stood shoulder to shoulder in the face of trouble, and there was no one I would rather have backing me up. But the time had come, and he had earned a peaceful retirement. Chief Bork’s radio went off, and he was summoned back to his office.“The paperwork wars shall continue,” he said. “Let me know when you hear about Jim.” Then he got up and walked over to the PD.I stayed at the table, sipping my coffee, so deep in thought that I didn’t even notice when a grizzled gunfighter sort of guy snuck up on me. He put his hand on my shoulder, and I jumped back into reality. 

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