Kevin Kluesner has been working in healthcare for over 40 years, the last four as the administrator at Ascension St. Joseph, and in October, he started as site administrator for the newly built Mental Health Emergency Center on 12th and Walnut. But on the side, Kluesner’s been writing.
This month, Kluesner published his first novel, The Killer Sermon with Level Best Books.
“I have never wanted to be one-dimensional,” Kluesner says. “During my healthcare journey, I often had a side gig. I worked as the outdoor writer for a daily newspaper.”
The novel, set in Milwaukee, follows an FBI agent and a Journal Sentinel reporter on the trail of a killer targeting doctors who perform abortions.
“It’s a story about two protagonists, a man and a woman, who have very different opinions when it comes to the reproductive rights issue,” Kluesner says. “But they need to put those differences aside to catch a killer.”
The opening scene sees the unnamed shooter on a Milwaukee rooftop, rifle in hand, waiting for his target. After the murder, the story turns to Cole Huebsch, an FBI agent based in the Milwaukee field office in St. Francis (not a fictional office, by the way – the FBI is really on Lake Drive in St. Francis). Huebsch is tasked with solving the murder.
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Kluesner knows the abortion topic is controversial. “My characters voice their own opinions, but you won’t find mine in the book,” he says. “Other than possibly this: Our words matter. We need to own them and realize that what we say will have consequences, sometimes in ways we never intended or imagined. Second, no matter how big our differences on the divisive issues of our time, we need to respect each other.”
At the Journal Sentinel’s offices, Michele Fields writes an article covering the shooting, and then receives an email from the killer. When she reports it to the police, Huebsch meets her at the Calderone Club to discuss, and their initially uneasy alliance begins.
The novel is an entertaining mystery and thriller for any reader, but it holds a special place for Milwaukee residents. It’s full of local details – like characters sipping a Motto Mosaic Pale Ale from Good City Brewing, grabbing a taco from BelAir, or Huebsch’s background as a wrestler for the Marquette squad.
“My novel celebrates Milwaukee and Wisconsin,” Kluesner says.
The Killer Sermon is available on Kindle and other e-reading platforms now, and the paperback is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and local booksellers. Kluesner is also doing several book readings and signings – for a full calendar of events consult his website, linked here.