Professor Ed Schumacher intended to spend his summer break from his university position enjoying the wholesome atmosphere of small town life in Wisconsin with his wife Betty. He did not expect to become embroiled in a murder practically on his own doorstep. Events take the bumbling professor on a zany romp that becomes steadily more deadly as each day goes by. Who is killing people around the condo, why are they doing it, and, most important, why do all clues point to him as the culprit?
I walked past the dead man without noticing him. Well, not right past him; he was about ten feet away. This failure to notice what some people might regard as noteworthy caused the police to be suspicious. But the honest truth is I just did not see the body. After all, it was six in the morning. I was going out to pick up a newspaper and some bananas at the convenience store down the block. I was half asleep, not expecting anything unusual like a body by the door. Not exactly by the door; we have a second floor condo with a deck-type balcony. The body was directly under my deck on the neighbor's patio. My front door opened at least ten feet from that spot so, as you can see, it was not directly in front of my eyes.
Okay, maybe some people would have noticed it. But I was not your average person. The convenience store was a block away. I wandered over there in the usual way, my early morning ritual on a summer morning being unvaried if at all possible. I circled the building, staying on the sidewalk and stepping over the dirt. The building was new, so we had a lot of dirt. The dirt was sometimes a little wet and I didn't want mud on the bottom of my shoes. Then, I always followed the same route. I walked on the left side of the street until I was across from the convenience store. I crossed over and went in, being careful of cars seeking gasoline. The return trip was a mirror image of the first leg.
The convenience store was bright, clean, and airy. It was a very nice store. The people who worked there were wide awake, cheerful, neat and clean, and looked wholesome. The store had fresh bananas, donuts, and milk along with the usual conveniences. I always picked up the Milwaukee paper and this morning, a Saturday, my wife wanted me to get the Advertiser. An inveterate yard sale fanatic, she was looking forward to a full morning. Rather, she was looking to fill what would be left of the morning after she finally got up and dressed. That would be several hours from now.
Let me clarify so you don't get the wrong idea: we didn't read the Milwaukee paper because we were in Milwaukee. We didn't like Milwaukee. Nobody did. Milwaukee was not like the rest of Wisconsin. It was more like Chicago. And we really didn't like Chicago.
On the other hand, the Milwaukee newspaper was better than the one printed in Madison. The Madison paper did not even have the Dilbert comic strip. So we were driven to settle on the Milwaukee paper. Just don't think that meant we liked Milwaukee or were the slightest bit interested in what went on there.
Quite the opposite in fact. As Milwaukee grew, it pushed its boundaries out. Those of us with homes in small towns like Fort Atkinson were in danger of some day becoming part of the 'Milwaukee area.' When that happened, we would be painted with the same brush, the brush that said urban problems - crime, pollution, traffic, and racial conflict. This was unfair and not our fault. If we wanted urban problems, we would live in the city for Pete's sake. In fact, we proved our innate good sense by not living in the city. For the city to invade us was just not right. They could damn well grow in the other direction. That would be into Lake Michigan. Let them live in houseboats or in bubbles under the lake (the one they polluted whenever they got the chance).