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Patricia Skalka books in order

Patricia Skalka is an American freelancer, writing instructor, book reviewer and an award-winning author of mystery novels.

She is best known for writing the Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery Series.

Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Skalka is a former Reader’s Digest Staff Writer and freelancer. She spent many years writing human interest and medical articles that are available in national print and online publications.

Following an accomplished career in non-fiction, Skalka made the switch to fiction writing, where she made her debut in 2014 with Death Stalks Door County, the first installment of the Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries.

She later wrote Death In Cold Water (2016), which was awarded the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award by the Council for Wisconsin Writers.

A member of the Authors Guild of America, Mystery Writers of America, and Society of Midland Authors, as well as a past-president of the Sisters in Crime Chicagoland Chapter, Skalka currently divides her time between Milwaukee and Door County, Wisconsin.

More about Patricia Skalka

Genres: Mystery, Suspense

United States


Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery

  1. Death Stalks Door County (2014)
  2. Death at Gills Rock (2015)
  3. Death in Cold Water (2016)
  4. Death Rides the Ferry (2018)
  5. Death by the Bay (2019)
  6. Death Washes Ashore (2021)
  7. Death Casts a Shadow (2022)

Detailed book overview

Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery

Death Stalks Door County

Six deaths mar the holiday mood as summer vacationers enjoy Wisconsin’s beautiful Door County peninsula. Murders, or bizarre accidents? Newly hired park ranger Dave Cubiak, a former Chicago homicide detective, assumes the worst but refuses to get involved. Grief-stricken and guilt-ridden over the loss of his wife and daughter, he’s had enough of death.

Forced to confront the past, the morose Cubiak moves beyond his own heartache and starts investigating, even as a popular festival draws more people into possible danger. In a desperate search for clues, Cubiak uncovers a tangled web of greed, betrayal, bitter rivalries, and lost love beneath the peninsula’s travel-brochure veneer. Befriended by several locals but unsure whom to trust or to suspect of murder, the one-time cop tracks a clever killer.

Author: Patricia Skalka
First Release: 2014
ISBN: 978-0274727643
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Death at Gills Rock

After tracking a clever killer in Death Stalks Door County, park ranger and former Chicago homicide detective Dave Cubiak is elected Door County sheriff. His newest challenge arrives as spring brings not new life but tragic death to the isolated fishing village of Gills Rock. Three prominent World War II veterans, about to be honored for their military heroics, die from carbon monoxide poisoning during a weekly card game.

Blame falls to a faulty heater but Cubiak puzzles over details. When one of the widows receives a message claiming the men "got what they deserved," he realizes that there may be more to the deaths than a simple accident.

Investigating, Cubiak discovers that the men's veneer of success and respectability hides an intricate web of lies, betrayal, and treachery.

In a dark, moody tale that spans more than half a century and hopscotches across the peninsula, Cubiak encounters a host of suspects with motives for murder. Amid broken dreams, corruption, and loss, he sorts out the truth.

Author: Patricia Skalka
First Release: 2015
ISBN: 978-0299304546
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Death in Cold Water

On a bracing autumn day in Door County, a prominent philanthropist disappears. Is the elderly Gerald Sneider―known as "Mr. Packer" for his legendary support of Green Bay football―suffering from dementia or just avoiding his greedy son? Is there a connection to threats against the National Football League? 

As tourists flood the peninsula for the fall colors, Sheriff Dave Cubiak's search for Sneider is stymied by the FBI. When human bones wash up on the Lake Michigan shore, the sheriff has more to worry about than a missing man.

Author: Patricia Skalka
First Release: 2016
ISBN: 978-0299309244
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Death Rides the Ferry

It’s a sparkling August day on Washington Island and the resonant notes of early classical music float on the breeze toward the sailboats and ferries that ply the waters of Death’s Door strait. 

After a forty-year absence, the Viola da Gamba Music Festival has returned to the picturesque isle on the tip of Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula. Sheriff Dave Cubiak enjoys a rare day off as tourists and a documentary film crew hover around the musicians.

The jubilant mood sours when an unidentified passenger is found dead on a ferry. Longtime residents recall with dismay the disastrous festival decades earlier, when another woman died and a valuable sixteenth-century instrument—the fabled yellow viol—vanished, never to be found.

Cubiak follows a trail of murder, kidnapping, and false identity that leads back to the calamitous night of the twin tragedies. With the lives of those he holds most dear in peril, the sheriff pursues a ruthless killer into the stormy northern reaches of Lake Michigan.

Author: Patricia Skalka
First Release: 2018
ISBN: 978-0299318048
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Death by the Bay

On a chilly Monday in late spring, Sheriff Dave Cubiak is at the Green Arbor Lodge for lunch when a scream from a nearby medical conference disrupts the scene. Leaping into action, he finds the ninety-three-year-old director of the prestigious Institute for Progressive Medicine collapsed on the floor, dead of a suspected heart attack. 

As Cubiak interrogates the witnesses, he’s struck by the inconsistencies in their stories. Some evade questions while others offer contradictory statements. Then suddenly another scream pierces the air. . . . 

Past and present merge as long-buried secrets rise to the surface. The resourceful sheriff must rely on his skills and wits, along with the advice and memories of friends and family, to uncover the dark truth behind the Institute for Progressive Medicine.

Author: Patricia Skalka
First Release: 2019
ISBN: 978-0299323141
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Death Washes Ashore

In the wake of a brutal storm that lashed the Door County peninsula, Sheriff Dave Cubiak assesses the damage: broken windows, downed trees, and piles of mysterious debris along the shoreline. He leaves the comfort of his home and heads out into the aftermath, checking in with folks along the way to offer help. His assistant, marooned at the justice center overnight, calls with an ominous message about a body discovered on the beach. When the medical examiner discovers the man didn’t simply drown during the storm, Cubiak searches for answers.

Chasing leads, the sheriff learns the victim directed a troupe of live-action role players living in an ersatz Camelot. In a setting where pretense in the norm, Cubiak must determine if suspects are who they say they are or if their made-up identities conceal a ruthless killer. As tensions escalate among neighbors unhappy about the noise and commotion, the sheriff discovers that more than one person on the peninsula has a motive for murder.

Author: Patricia Skalka
First Release: 2021
Ebook: B08ZKYD15Q
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Death Casts a Shadow

With Door County caught in the grip of a fierce winter storm, Sheriff Dave Cubiak agrees to do a simple favor for a friend of his wife: he stops by to check in on an affluent widow with a questionable new suitor. 

His initial disquiet is easily dismissed—until she is found dead the next morning in her home. Lying at the bottom of a flight of stairs, clutching a valuable bronze sculpture, she points her outstretched hand in the direction of a nearby, nondescript ring.

The scene bears all the characteristics of an accidental fall, not unheard of for a person of her age, but something is not adding up. Later that week, an explosion in an ice fishing shack on the frozen bay leads to the discovery of another body, burned beyond recognition. Was this the widow’s missing handyman? Could the two deaths be related?

With what has become a hallmark for books in the series, past and present collide as Cubiak’s search for answers uncovers the sad legacy of loneliness and the disquieting links between wealth and poverty on the peninsula.

Author: Patricia Skalka
First Release: 2022
Ebook: B0B426RNP7
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press