Wednesday 31 March 2021



KirkusReviews Best Fiction Books of 2019

Dennis Lehane meets Megan Miranda in this tense, atmospheric thriller about the first female sheriff in rural Bad Axe County, Wisconsin, as she searches for a missing girl, battles local drug dealers, and seeks the truth about the death of her parents twenty years ago—all as a winter storm rages in her embattled community.

Fifteen years ago, Heidi White’s parents were shot to death on their Bad Axe County farm. The police declared it a murder-suicide and closed the case. But that night, Heidi found the one clue she knew could lead to the truth—if only the investigators would listen.

Now Heidi White is Heidi Kick, wife of local baseball legend Harley Kick and mother of three small children. She’s also the interim sheriff in Bad Axe. Half the county wants Heidi elected but the other half will do anything to keep her out of law enforcement. And as a deadly ice storm makes it way to Bad Axe, tensions rise and long-buried secrets climb to the surface.

As freezing rain washes out roads and rivers flood their banks, Heidi finds herself on the trail of a missing teenaged girl. Clues lead her down twisted paths to backwoods stag parties, derelict dairy farms, and the local salvage yard—where the body of a different teenage girl has been carefully hidden for a decade.

As the storm rages on, Heidi realizes that someone is planting clues for her to find, leading her to some unpleasant truths that point to the local baseball team and a legendary game her husband pitched years ago. With a murder to solve, a missing girl to save, and a monster to bring to justice, Heidi is on the cusp of shaking her community to its core—and finding out what really happened the night her parents died.

Bad Axe County is the first in a three book series from author John Galligan. After encountering this one, I've got the next two lined up in my sights already.

Exciting, tense, brutal and disturbing.........we encounter murder, loss, bereavement, corruption, betrayal of the badge, misogyny, rape, abuse, trafficking, macho culture - boys are boys, women are things - unless they are part of the profiteering, family feuds, baseball, family, suspicion of spouse, doubt, deviants, career opportunity or career suicide, death, danger and at the centre of it all a female probationary sheriff in the middle of an investigation to stop an abduction while still seeking answers to her parent's murders a dozen years or more back. (There's a contradiction in the blurb - 15 years or 20 years? I can't remember.)

Enjoyed on Audible. Initially I kind of found myself a bit overwhelmed by all the happenings and trying to keep track of the wide cast of characters, but once I caught the rhythm of the book it was a fantastic read.

Tremendous story, with a sympathetic, tough, determined main character in Heidi Kick. It's a very busy book, but one sung out to me on a lot of levels. 

The community of Bad Axe seems overly populated by a high percentage of entitled, misogynistic, corrupt ass-wipes with their stag parties - beer, drugs, strippers, guns, trucks. I know you get bad eggs popping up everywhere, but here the community seems almost divided equally been good and bad. At times Heidi seems to have the weight of the world on her shoulders and legions actively opposing her. There is a small band of supporters within her sheriff's department, as well as a powerful enemy.

The other thing that stuck out was the kind of pack mentality of male athletes and the team culture that emboldens them to regard girls of the same age as meat. As a father of two young women, I find myself threatened and belittled by such attitudes. Is that how we want to be as a society? Is the book an exaggeration or an accurate portrayal? Whatever happened to respect?

In addition to the excitement, a bit of food for thought as well.

4.5 from 5 

I'm looking forward to Dead Man Dancing and Bad Moon Rising - #2 and 3 in the series.

Read - (listened to) February, 2021

Published - 2019

Page count - 337 (10 hrs 24 mins)

Source - Audible purchase

Format - Audible


  1. This sounds very atmospheric, Col, and gut-level. That can make a story memorable. I know what you mean about a large cast of characters to follow, but it sounds as though Galligan handled that well. It's great when a book ticks that many boxes!

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  3. New to me, and worth checking out on your recommendation.

    1. I need to crack on with the second in the series.