The Kohler Villager News

Kohler native publishes fictional crime mystery book set in small Wisconsin village

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Mystery in the Hill, a novel written by Village of Kohler native Aaron Qualio, follows four high school seniors who uncover a disturbing mystery in the small village they grew up in. The fictional story takes place in the Village of Ashbelle, a close-knit, well-planned company town in eastern Wisconsin, where everyone knows everyone (and their pets!). At the center of the Village of Ashbelle is Ashbelle Company, founded by the Ashbelle family.

It’s clearly no mystery that the story is set in a fictional village inspired by Qualio’s hometown of Kohler, Wisconsin.

The story begins with a lesson from the local high school history teacher who is attempting to keep senior students engaged in their studies during the last few weeks prior to graduation. The lesson details how factories converted to bomb-making plants during World War II, necessitating the building of tunnels to serve as escape routes should the factories be targeted by an enemy invasion. The lesson piques the interest of Ashbelle high school senior Andrew Quimby, who is determined to discover whether Ashbelle Company may have been one of the bomb-making factories, complete with secret tunnels. His quest leads him to a disturbing discovery.

Some of the settings and rituals described in the book will be familiar to readers who grew up in Kohler: climbing onto the school roof; sliding down the hill by the tennis courts; houses that all look the same; a train trestle where teens hung out to smoke and drink. And yes, Kohler Co. really did convert its production to war implements during WWII, and there really is a tunnel connecting The American Club to the factory!

Other Kohler inspired references include a pub called the Clydesdale, located in The Patriot Club; high schoolers involved in multiple sports (even if they weren’t good at all of them); the way village teens knew everyone in their school – including siblings, parents, and pets; and references to older residents in brick houses looking out their windows to keep an eye on things.

One such inhabitant peering out the window of his brick house, however, has good reason to keep an eye on things. “Grandpa Vic,” a gruff and intimidating figure, has a 50 year-old secret he doesn’t want anyone discovering, and the four teenage boys nosing around by the hill at the tennis courts are making him nervous.

To uncover the mystery that had Village of Ashbelle residents whispering for decades, order a copy of Mystery in the Hill by searching the title at (Kindle and paperback),, or visit

Author Aaron Qualio is a 1997 Kohler High School graduate who currently resides in Green Bay with his wife, Angie, and daughters, Ashlyn and Annabelle.

“I spent my entire youth in the Village attending Kohler Schools, from Junior Kindergarten through high school,” said Qualio. “I feel very fortunate to have grown up in such a wonderful and unique place, and Mystery in the Hill – although fictional – is based on the experiences and relationships I was blessed to have had while growing up there. I hope that those familiar with Kohler will find Mystery in the Hill a fun and exciting read with many references to the Village itself and to the experiences those fortunate enough to have lived there share.”

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