Literary Hook: Murder in Galena a fun summer read

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Summer is a time for leisure reading. One of life’s pleasures is a good mystery. The pleasure is even greater when you know something about the geographical area the mystery is set in. A bonus: meeting the author.

Murder in Galena is a fun summer read. If you have ever been to Galena, you will recognize the terrain and the names of the streets and roads. Since part of the novel is set in Chicago, you will also recognize some of the landmarks and streets mentioned.

Murder in Galena is a Karen Prince mystery. Who is Karen Prince? The back cover of the book tells the story: “Karen Prince, once a Chicago lawyer, now lives and paints in the rolling countryside outside Galena. Her peaceful existence is turned upside down when her best friend and country neighbor, Alice Almonte, is accused of murdering her millionaire ‘ex’, George.” But of course, this is all fiction, including the pen name. I met “Karen Prince” at a book fair in Freeport, where we both had booths, so it has been triply delightful to read an entire novel by someone with whom I have had a conversation.

As the plot unfurls, blackmail, revenge, greed, and betrayal reveal all is not well in the sleepy Galena countryside. Prince treats us to an imaginary glimpse of the idyllic life in the northwest territories. Local color is part of the mystery, with lifestyle descriptions such as the opening of Chapter 5, “The Party”: “Six-thirty is the standard time for local parties. People out here tend to arrive on time and leave early. None of this fashionably late business for us country folk.” Rings true to the Midwest spirit, doesn’t it?

And for art buffs, there is a subplot: Karen discovers the secret of a Dutch painting, taking us to New York for a little change of scenery. The dialogue sparkles with realism and wit. The descriptions are delightful, but not overbearing. The chapters are balanced and easy to read in one sitting—just the kind of book to take on vacation, read in a lounge chair, or at the beach. Of course, Murder in Galena is a mystery, so I’m not going to spoil the fun and summarize the plot—just whet your appetite. The book is self-published by Galena Publishing, owned by the author herself. I do recommend this book for a fun summer reading experience!

To find out more about this book or to order it, visit

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet who has written several books of poetry.

from the July 25-31, 2007, issue

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