Book review: ‘Bad Axe County’ by John Galligan

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

Sheriff Gibbs had died. Deputy Boog Lund had expected to be named interim sheriff. He wasn’t. Instead they named a woman who had recently solved a local crime, Heidi Kick. Heidi Kick had been the state Dairy Queen some years back. At present, that title was used by her detractors, apparently to suggest a former Dairy Queen was not going to make a good sheriff.

While committed to the interim sheriff position, Heidi constantly mulled a 12-year-old memory. Near the end of her Dairy Queenreign, she was informed that her father had murdered her mother and then committed suicide. Heidi didn’t believe it for a minute; her father would never do that. And she had some factual support for her belief; the gun used was not her dad’s. What she needed was the original case file from Crawford County, the location of the home farm. Her effort to get it had not been successful, and that effort had upset several people, including her husband, Harley. He felt there was no reason to dwell on the past and upset people.

Among her problems, Deputy Boog Lund was still on the force. Because of his seniority and the fact that he was the only declared candidate for the sheriff position, he tended to do what he wanted, and the other deputies chose not to contradict him. There was a rainstorm brewing and considerable snow melt. Flash-flood warnings had been issued. Sheriff Kick’s assignments for emergency flood coverage had to be adjusted to allow for Deputy Lund.

Also in the mix is Angus Beavers and the Beavers’ salvage/junk yard. Angus Beavers has been away four years, developing his baseball skills. At the time he left, his father and uncle had been in somewhat of a bind, as there was the body of a young girl in their truck. They didn’t know how it got there, but the solution worked out had mysteriously led to Angus going away to a baseball training facility and Sheriff Gibbs putting the Beavers on his bad list. Deputy Lund, who had worked closely with Gibbs, seemed to have them on the same list. Angus intends to dredge up the old case and put the blame where it belongs.

Interim Sheriff Heidi Kick learned that members of the Rattlers baseball team had been, and perhaps were, involved with activities that featured underaged girls and private parties. Further, a young girl had been in the library doing some research when an older man had jerked her out and severely injured the elderly librarian who had been helping her. The fact that Bad Axe County was somehow directly involved in some kind of underaged-girl operation seemed all too obvious. When she began to tie the Beavers’ body discovery to the situation, it was clear that underage sex trafficking had a lengthy history.

Author John Galligan makes sex trafficking all too clear by including the experiences of Pepper Greengrass in the story. While most things are made clear, including how Interim Sheriff Kick totals two squad cars, there are still a couple of loose ends for the reader to contemplate.

Author John Galligan teaches in Madison, Wis., and has written some other Wisconsin-based novels, including a sequel to “Bad Axe County.”

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