Barbara has asked why I wrote The Man in the Lake. To answer this question, I have to go back over twenty years. I knew I was a writer, but I also knew I wasn’t making any money at it. I decided to write Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre. I put on plays at several different restaurants in our area. The first of these dinner theatres was The Man In The Lake.
Since the first performance was at a restaurant, in Milton, WI called Shakespeare’s, the lake became Storres Lake, just outside of Milton. I had all the characters in place and gave each guest a small biography. These plays were a great success and there turned out to be three more of them, all set in Rock County, WI. Those plays, became the next three books in the Rhonda Pohs Series, Murder in the Meadow, Murder by Mistake, and Reunion for a Murder.
When I decided to write murder mysteries, I drew on these four manuscripts for the first four books in the Rhonda Pohs Murder Mystery series. I love Rhonda as my detective heroine and have enjoyed watching her mature from the token woman on the Milton police force to the seasoned detective working for the Rock County Sheriff’s Office. In the last two books of the series Murder in Red Rock Canyon and Who Killed Billy Roller, Rhonda has relocated to Las Vegas because her husband has received a good job offer.
Will there be any more Rhonda books? Who knows? I’m kicking around the idea of a Christmas book called Christmas Crackers, where the murder victim is an author who opens a package of Christmas Crackers laced with an explosive. It’s still cooking in my brain.
Rhonda Pohs has been hired as a token woman cop to say nothing of a grief counselor for the force of Milton, WI, although the town is never mentioned in the book.
When a man, who has been a womanizer all his life, is found floating in Storres Lake, Rhonda is sent to comfort the widow. To her surprise, the man’s mistress is also there.
Throughout the twists and turns of unraveling the murder, Rhonda proves she’s not just the token woman or the grief counselor, she’s a top notch detective and someone to be reckoned with.
“I think you ought to take this one, chief,” the secretary said through the intercom.
Jack sighed deeply and picked up the receiver. “Franks here.”
“Jack, this is Al. I just went out to Storrs Lake fishing and there’s a man floating in the middle of the lake.”
The panic in Al’s voice was enough to send chilled shockwaves through Jack’s body. “What do you mean a body is floating in the lake?”
“Just what I said, asshole. I came out to fish and there’s a body out there in the middle. I haven’t tried to go out and bring him in. He must have drowned, but I’ve seen enough cop shows to know you don’t touch things at a crime scene.”
Jack rolled his eyes. He and Al had been friends since kindergarten and Al tended to exaggerate. If his friend were a woman, Jack’s wife would have called Al a “drama
“Are you sure some kids haven’t stolen a mannequin from the mall and dumped it in the lake?”
“Mannequin, hell, this ain’t no mannequin. It’s a man, and he’s dead I tell you. Now get your ass out here and investigate. That’s your job, after all. You should do something to earn your pay rather than just sitting in the office reading the paper.”
Jack shoved the paper aside, ashamed everyone knew about his duties and reading the paper was all he had to do on a Friday morning. “Okay, I’ll humor you, but if this is
one of your practical jokes, so help me Hannah, you’ll pay.”
He hung up the phone, but it rang again before he had the chance to grab his keys and head out the door.
“This is another one you have to take,” the secretary assured him.
“Franks here,” he said, just as he always did when he answered the phone.
On the other end of the line he could hear a woman crying. “This is Kitty Reedman and my husband is missing.”
Jack thought about Karl Reedman. He was hardly what anyone would call a “faithful” husband. He recalled he cheated on his first wife, Barbara, with his second wife, Marie. Then he’d cheated on Marie with his third wife, Christine. Just lately he’d cheated on Christine with his current wife Kitty, so why was Kitty so upset about him staying out all night? He was probably just scouting out wife number five.
“What do you mean he’s missing, Kitty?”
“Oh Jack, it’s so terrible. Karl went out last night to get a pack of cigarettes and he never came back.”
“Are you sure he’s not with a friend?”
“Positive. I know what you’re thinking. I know all about
Susan Barclay. I called her and she hasn’t seen him either.”
“I’ll look into it, Kitty. I have something else I have to do first and then I’ll be right over to file a missing person’s report. I’ll see you in a couple of hours.”
He hung up the phone and wondered where in the hell he was going to find a missing person’s report form. He knew they were somewhere in the office, but since his secretary,
Melissa, arrived and reorganized the filing system he couldn’t find a damn thing.
“I need a missing person’s report form.” He approached Melissa’s desk. “Do you have any idea where I might find one?”
Sherry Derr-Wille lives is a mid-sized city in Southern Wisconsin. She married her high school sweetheart fifty-three years ago two days after her high school graduation.
Wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, Sherry is first and foremost a writer. With seventy-seven books under her belt, she still writes more and more manuscripts.
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