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Milton College is setting for new mystery novel

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Stacy Vogel
November 28, 2009
— When Joseph Suppiger learned his alma mater, Milton College, was closing in 1982, he felt sick to his stomach.

Later, he thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the college had some hidden treasure trove to keep it going?”


The thought inspired his second novel, “Ivy and Ice: Tragedy on an Abandoned College Campus.”


In the novel, four Janesville residents and Milton College alumni discover that a valuable item is hidden in the old Main Hall. They plan to steal it, but their plans go awry and one of them ends up murdered.


“It’s tied up with this whole idea that I have that morality in general in America has taken a sharp nosedive in recent years,” Suppiger said. “Because of that, people are often involved in things that they would never have been involved with before.”


Suppiger graduated from Milton College in 1964 and now lives in Washington state. His book compares the atmosphere of greed that helped lead to the recession with the high standards for which Milton College stood, he said.


“The Milton College tradition was one of service and more sustained morality and decency,” he said. “That is something that we need today more than ever in our society.”


The book will help keep the college’s memory alive in more ways than one. Suppiger is donating copies to the Milton College Preservation Society, which is selling them for $20 apiece. All of the proceeds will go to the society.


The book sells on the online retailer Amazon.com for $28.95.


The society started with 20 copies of the book in early November and had sold 17 of them by Tuesday, said Judy Scheehle, society administrator and curator. She expected another shipment soon, she said.


The books are available at Main Hall, Goodrich Hall Antiques and Books & Brew, she said.


Scheehle doesn’t read much fiction, but “Ivy and Ice” kept her intrigued, she said.


“He did such a great job on research that I could feel like I was on the streets,” she said.


Suppiger supplemented his memories with research and a trip to Milton to get the details just right, especially when it comes to describing modern Milton. The book mentions specific streets, businesses and landmarks, though it does occasionally stray from history when it suits the story, he said.


The story includes politics, history and even a Ponzi scheme, Scheehle said.


“There’s something in there for everyone,” she said.



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