Matt C. Abbott
Novelist-detective vs. priest-killer
By Matt C. Abbott
July 21, 2009

Interestingly, Detective Kevin Hughes of the Dane County Sheriff's Office — the chief investigator of the unsolved 1998 murder of Father Alfred Kunz — is a novelist by avocation.

Detective Hughes writes on his Web site:

    '...I've been a cop for over three decades and the bulk of that time has been with the Dane County Sheriff's Office in Madison, Wisconsin. During the past twenty years or so, I've had the privilege of being a detective and the personal rewards are incalculable. For me, the job never gets old and retirement is merely a distant rumor.

    'My novels are a composite reflection of people and situations that are based primarily on my law enforcement experience, combined with what I've learned about life along the way. The genesis of my writing goes back to a co-worker named Sonya who typed my reports. She often complimented me on my writing style and even placed excerpts that she enjoyed in a file. I'd told her that I wanted to write a novel someday and her encouragement did a lot to bolster my confidence to move forward. After a three-year long homicide investigation was resolved by a guilty verdict, I took a vacation. On my way out the door, Sonya reminded me that with the case behind me, I had time to write. So, that's just what I did: Just Another Shade of Blue was born and writing became one of my passions.

    'In April of 2008, Casualty Crossing kicked off a series featuring Toby Jenkins, a Madison Police Detective whose life is a bit of a mess. And to make it worse, TJ doesn't always employ his best social skills, which makes him rather unpopular with his bosses. The supporting characters are a wonderful crew with strong personalities, conflicts and a lot of antics that will keep you interested and guessing.

    'Dogging Truth, the second of the series released this May, is Toby Jenkins at his best while he works to decipher a murder in which he did not want to be involved in the first place. If you enjoyed Casualty Crossing, you'll love Dogging Truth as the team reunites to keep Toby on the right, and not so right, track.

    'In the works for September of 2010 is the third Toby Jenkins novel, Archer. Toby works to solve the homicide of a high-society person's son, which makes his job somewhat miserable. Archer has a lot of action, more twists and a little bit of romance for good measure. But for now, that's about all I can share with you until I figure out where it will all end....'

I have much respect for Detective Hughes. He's certainly been gracious in his correspondence with me over the past several years. At the same time, he's obviously very careful not to divulge anything that could compromise the investigation. Of course, this leaves a lot to the imagination, but (as I asserted in a previous column) based on other credible sources, I'm fairly certain I know who the "person of interest" is. And I doubt said person — a Caucasian, Catholic man under the age of 50 who no longer lives in the Madison, Wis., area — is a big fan of the detective.

If the Father Kunz case is indeed solved at some point — and I hope it will be — I think it will be due in large part to the efforts of Detective Hughes. Perhaps he could then write a (non-fiction) book about this sordid-but-compelling case.

Now that would be a good read.

Related link:

"Murdered Catholic priest knew too much?"

© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 'Unsolved' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and other media outlets. In 2005 and 2006, he was among the first writers to expose former cardinal Theodore McCarrick's abuse of power with and sexual harassment of seminarians. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome thoughtful feedback and story ideas. If you want our correspondence to remain confidential, please specify as such in your initial email to me. However, I reserve the right to forward and/or publish emails that are accusatory, insulting or threatening in nature, even if they're marked confidential. Also, if you give me permission to publish a quote of yours, please do not contact me at a later time to request that I delete your name. Only in limited circumstances will I quote anonymous sources. Thank you and God bless!)


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