Author sets crime novels in Madison

Mike Baron has been writing more novels recently
Author sets crime novels in Madison

Madison native Mike Baron, best known for writing the “Badger”and “Nexus” comic books starting in the 1980s, has more recently been churning out novels. And like “Badger” before it, the “Bad Road Rising” series – starring Josh Pratt, a born-again, ex-con/private investigator – is largely set in Madison.

In quick succession, the first four hard-boiled crime novels in the series (“Biker,” “Sons of Privilege,” “Not Fade Away” and “Sons of Bitches”) were released in 2017 and 2018 by “right-of-center counterculture” publisher Liberty Island Media Group. Baron says at least three more will be released soon.

“Comics taught me pacing, but learning how to write a novel was very difficult,” says Baron, who now lives out west. “I’ve always ripped stories from the headlines; most writers do.”

That true-crime inspiration in “Sons of Privilege” is evident as Pratt investigates a series
of suspicious drownings of college students, some on the University of Wisconsin-Madison and UW-Stevens Point campuses. Pratt encounters outlaw bikers, radical hippies and white supremacists active on the darknet.

Along the way, Pratt visits the UW-Madison campus, Shorewood and the now-closed Cardinal Bar (when real-life jazz legend Ben Sidran is playing).

“As I was born in Madison and grew up there, that’s where I placed my protagonist,” Baron explains. Pratt leaves town frequently, Baron says, “but each story starts and ends in Madison, and features its landmarks and many personalities. Some are disguised, but you know who they are.”

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