College of DuPage Instructor Publishes Fourth Mystery Novel

College of DuPage Earth Science Instructor Rick Polad recently released the mystery novel "Missing Boy," the fourth installment in his Spencer Manning detective series.

Published by Calumet Editions, "Missing Boy" takes place in 1984 and is set in Chicago's once-loved Riverview amusement park. The novel's hero, private detective Spencer Manning, sets out to track down a 16-year-old boy who has gone missing, getting pulled into a dangerous scenario that goes well beyond the lost teenager. Polad's previous novels include "Change of Address," "Dark Alleys" and "Harbor Nights."

Since its release, "Missing Boy" has been garnering rave reviews on Amazon and Polad's Twitter account now boasts more than 139,000 followers.

After earning a degree in English, Polad spent 20 years in sales working for Tru-Link Fence. Deciding he needed a change, Polad returned to school and earned his master's degree in Earth Science from Northeastern Illinois University and began teaching astronomy part-time at COD. He later switched to geology and spent eight years performing geological work in the field while continuing to teach at the College.

Polad said when he first started at COD, he expected it to be a short-term endeavor. Twenty-one years later, he said he has obviously enjoyed his time at the College.

"Being at COD has been wonderful," he said. "The deans and associate deans have been especially great."

COD Associate Dean of Math and Physical Sciences Tom Schrader said he is a fan of Polad's work and appreciates the local flavor of the novels. He said he also enjoys the subtle display of Polad's expertise in the earth sciences throughout the series.

"I'm excited about Rick Polad's novels and pleased with his success," Schrader said. "I'm not generally a reader of mysteries, but he has made me a fan. These books could very easily and successfully be adapted to film or television."

Before becoming a published author, Polad amassed a decade's worth of experience providing editorial assistance to award-winning photographer Bruce Roberts and historian/author Cheryl Shelton-Roberts on several publications, including "North Carolina Lighthouses: Stories of History and Hope" and "American Lighthouses: A Comprehensive Guide to Exploring Our National Coastal Treasures." He also edited the English version of "Living With Nuclei," the memoirs of Japanese physicist, Motoharu Kimura. Polad currently volunteers with the Coast Guard, plays trumpet in a jazz band and has recently accepted a position as an editor for his publisher.

He said his love for mysteries was instilled in him from a young age.

"I learned to read by following along while my father read mystery books to me," Polad said. "After that, I grew up reading authors such as Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Robert Parker and Mickey Spillane."

Polad said he is already working on the fifth installment in the Spencer Manning series and has ideas for additional books, including a kid's series featuring a morphing dog, a historical fiction set in Chicago before the great fire and a non-fiction book about his experiences while his father spent five years in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer's.

Polad said that while it's nice to see sales as an author, it is the companionship with his characters that gives him the most satisfaction.

"I love my characters like family," he said. "I wake up each morning wondering what they're going to do next."

He added that one of his most meaningful experiences as an author arose from an experience that poignantly mirrors his father reading mysteries to him as a child.

"In her later years, my mother was going blind and was unable to read on her own," he said. "After my first book came out, my father read the book to her every evening. That meant so much to me."

For a limited time, "Missing Boy" and Polad's previous novels in the Spencer Manning series will be featured at a discounted rate of 99 cents on Amazon.

For more information, please contact Mike McKissack at

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