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Bad Day Breaking

A Novel


Wild Wild Country and Longmire meet in the latest in the “gritty, brash, and totally gripping” (The Real Book Spy) Bad Axe County series, as Sheriff Heidi Kick struggles to prevent a radical religious sect from turning her county into the next Jonestown, all while a dark secret from her past puts her life in danger.

Winter is descending on Bad Axe County, and this year it is bringing something darker with it. On an abandoned lot, a strange new religious sect has built a compound, armed with guns and stoking fears in town. Rumors of sadistic rituals and a planned takeover abound, and when one of the sect’s members is murdered, panic sets in.

Sheriff Heidi Kick may not be a fan of the group, but she is also dismayed when the locals form a posse to get rid of them. Plus, with a murder investigation on her hands, Heidi doesn’t have time for distractions. To add to her woes, Heidi soon finds out that the ex-boyfriend she helped put behind bars in her wild days is being released early—and forgiveness is not on his mind.

With a tumultuous snowstorm on the horizon, the cult members are on the verge of freezing, the town is on the edge of violence, and Sheriff Kick is just one false step away from losing her family, her town, and her very life. A writer at the height of his powers, John Galligan weaves a riveting cat-and-mouse mystery, a startling examination of the price paid for following false leaders, and the power of the individual spirit to overcome past trauma.

Ya-Ling Tsai

John Galligan is the author of the Fly Fishing Mystery series, The Nail KnotThe Blood KnotThe Clinch Knot, and The Wind Knot; the Bad Axe County series, Bad Moon Rising, Bad Axe County, and Dead Man Dancing; and the novel Red Sky, Red Dragonfly. He lives and teaches college writing in Madison, Wisconsin.


"As unique a place in the mystery universe as you will ever find and in the eloquent prose of John Galligan it comes alive in a ride that is smooth, unexpected, and memorable. This book is a diamond in the rough."—Michael Connelly, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Law of Innocence

“As the pages turn, the author prompts readers to consider a range of timely issues (climate change, homelessness, corrosive wealth) via masterfully executed and action-packed storylines that coalesce in a shockingly memorable final act sure to leave readers eager for the next Bad Axe County thriller.” —BookPage (starred review)

“A heady combination of brooding meditation and adrenaline-fueled action…Galligan writes swift, atmospheric prose that will keep the pages turning.” —Crimereads

“Gritty and propulsive...Intriguing characters take a wild ride through backwoods Wisconsin in this irresistible mystery.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Madison author, Galligan, has written another gritty, gripping addition to his series set in rural Wisconsin. Kick, as her name implies, strikes hard when she’s forced to. This is becoming one of my go-to series." Carole Barrowman, “The Morning Blend” Summer Reads

“Suspenseful…Readers will root for Kick as the action builds to a satisfyingly hard-edged denouement. Fans of gritty rural crime, such as Ace Atkins’s Quinn Colson series, will be enthralled.” —Publishers Weekly

“Fascinating characters, a thoroughly original voice, and a riveting sense of place and atmosphere...Unputdownable.” —Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of A Deadly Divide

“Madison author Galligan has written another gritty, gripping addition to his series set in rural Wisconsin. Kick, as her name implies, strikes hard when she’s forced to.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Fast-paced and well written, Bad Moon Rising leaves Galligan’s fans anxiously awaiting the next volume in his Bad Axe County series." —Mystery and Suspense Magazine

“[A] compelling country noir in which a few good souls attempt to fight entropy.” —Booklist

“[An] outstanding sequel…gripping.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Given current tensions and deep divisions in the United States, Dead Man Dancing takes on an electrifying relevance made all the more effective thanks to Galligan’s vivid descriptions and emotional portrayal of his characters." —BookPage

"Fast-paced and utterly addictive. I loved Heidi kick, the Dairy-Queen-turned-sheriff. Long may she reign." —Lori Rader-Day, Edgar-Award-nominated author of Under a Dark Sky

"If Joseph Conrad had really wanted to find the heart of darkness, he’d have looked in Bad Axe County. Lurking in the isolated coulees at the edge of the Mississippi River are some of the meanest, foulest, cruelest hearts imaginable, and John Galligan evokes them with all the intensity of a mad poet. But in county sheriff Heidi Kick, a woman chipped and broken on every edge, Galligan offers a righteous force in opposition...A dark beauty of a novel."

– William Kent Krueger, New York Times Bestselling author of Desolation Mountain

More books from this author: John Galligan

More books in this series: A Bad Axe County Novel