Below is the first short except from QPQ that sets the stage for the events about to transpire in this mystery. The delay in posting this first excerpt was not in feverishly revising the material; it is still very much a work in progress. While I am excited to share this work with my friends, when the time came to actually post it for all to see, I found that it took some time to work up the courage to do so as it is my first work of fiction. I am looking for (constructive) feedback that will ultimately improve the end product and would appreciate hearing your ideas. To that end, please comment or, if you prefer, send me an email with your thoughts. Please be honest but gentle; I am baring my soul in this work.
You will note I have taken some literary license in the interest of creating a story in describing the location and characters.To that end, I am opening up a contest for the name of the city in which the book takes place. I want it to be located in Wisconsin, to be a Native American word meaning “great spirit of the lake” or something similar, but it need not be an actual place. If you submit a name and I use it, you will receive a free copy of the finished book once it is published. That being said, please read the first section of Quid Pro Quo:
“SECTION I–FEBRUARY 14, 2012
The day started like any other in the small Midwestern city of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Situated on the shore of Lake Michigan, the city was home to numerous industries that relied on the waterway to transport their goods to places beyond: factories manufacturing products for distribution around the world, farming operations that shipped their grains for processing elsewhere, even a manufacturer of large luxurious yachts that were in demand among the wealthiest of the 1%. Each of these industries thrived in the serene environment, though occasional growing pains were felt among long time residents of the community.
Established back in 1848, just about the time Wisconsin became a state, the city had sprouted up on either side of the river that flowed from Lake Michigan into the depths of the fertile farmland along the lakeshore. Initially the area was occupied by the Oneida and Winnebago Indian tribes. In fact, the name of the city is derived from an Indian word meaning “Great Spirit of the Lake.” Later, immigrants from Germany, what was then known as Bohemia and Poland began to settle in the area to develop farms and raise their families. Many of these families still occupied the area a number of generations later.
Once the city was established, some residents abandoned the practice of family farming and went to work for the industries that were developing in the lakefront community. Somewhat reminiscent of an Eastern seaboard town with its large marina and shipyard, Manitowoc made good use of its lake access. Factories building fishing and recreational boats, cookware and heavy machinery sprung up along the river, easily able to ship their products for worldwide distribution. Farmers shipped their goods as well. The shipyards had become well-known for their exceptional products, being a sought-after contractor to build submarines for the Department of Defense during World War II. And the yacht builder became known worldwide for the fine quality of their products, including the internal furnishings and supreme wood finishes. Even now, Manitowoc was a city that was doing well. Merchants provided a good product for a fair price, neighbors helped neighbors, a man’s word was his bond and life was good.
Because the river divided the town nearly in two, separations had sprung up on the north and south sides of the meandering body of water. Immigrants from Poland favored the south side of the city and they established a large Catholic church there with masses in Polish in addition to the standard Latin. The population living there tended toward blue collar occupations and simpler homes. German immigrants tended to prefer the higher land on the north side of the city and settled there, favoring larger homes and slightly more skilled occupations. The attorneys, business owners and physicians tended to live on the north side of the river, even in the present day, when the cultural differences had all but disappeared.
Family life was also pleasant in this Midwestern haven. A largely blue collar and farming community as a whole, children were valued and cherished; the main focus of weekend activities and events was on the family. Most people living in this small community were born and died there, never having ventured too far from home. If they went away to college, the more adventurous young people returned promptly upon graduation to make their homes and raise their families in Manitowoc as their parents had.
It was into this idyllic scene that evil intruded on a rare chilly but sunny day in February, though some would assert that the real evil had arrived some twenty five years before on the day that charismatic Adam Magnus had married a local girl and moved into their fair town. Or, perhaps some six years earlier when he had run for and been elected the office of the State Representative of the residents of the area, or even some four years earlier when he had run for an additional full time position as County Executive. Yes, many felt that what happened in February was just a setting to rights of events that had gotten out of hand.”