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Wednesday, December 06, 2006



City a star in local author's thriller
Landmarks plentiful in attorney's first novel
Pioneer Press

Take a U.S. senator and a bit of Summit Avenue, mix in a serial killer in the Midway and a prominent St. Peter Street technology firm and you've got the makings of peril to the free world, as local novelist Roger Stelljes envisions it.

He calls it "The St. Paul Conspiracy." The Twin Cities attorney has just published the book, a first novel based on the premise that not just all politics, but all political thrillers, are local.

"I went to law school at (William) Mitchell and I lived in St. Paul for two or three years after law school as well," Stelljes said. "I just fell in love with the city when I was there … so when I sat down to write, I wanted to do it in St. Paul."

As local authors John Camp, Chuck Logan, Theresa Monsour and others have discovered, it's fertile ground for popular fiction.

But few have adopted the city in such proximate detail: Much of the action takes place in Ward 2, between downtown and Lexington Parkway.

The book opens with the arrest of the state's Republican U.S. senator on suspicion of the Grand Avenue slaying of his illicit girlfriend. A host of St. Paul institutions and landmarks — most of them thinly disguised — figure into the action, including Patrick McGovern's tavern, the Victory Ramp, KSTP-TV, the Lawson Software headquarters and the RiverCentre parking ramp.

Two characters sound a lot like Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner and U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman.

"I didn't really use either of them as the basis for those characters — although when people read the book, I can see how they might think of Gaertner and Coleman just because of who they are," says Stelljes, who went to Osseo High School and now lives in Maple Grove with his wife and two children.

The regulars on DU are discussing this.