Lakeland chief of police writes murder mystery with local setting

Abbey Whittington, Staff Reporter

Eastern alum and Lakeland College Chief of Police Randy Ervin has published his new murder mystery novel “What Goes Around” which uses local areas in Charleston and Mattoon as its setting.

Ervin graduated in 1989 with a bachelor’s of arts degree in sociology and went back to school in 1992 to earn his master’s degree in community counseling.

Ervin said his interest in writing started with his early love for reading, and mysteries and thrillers were his favorite.

So far Ervin has published three books. The first is a fictional mystery novel called “Maycroft from 232nd” written 10 years ago with a younger target audience of elementary school students.

When this book was published, Ervin’s daughters were this age, and he said he wrote it for them. This was his first attempt at writing a book, and he published it himself.

Ervin’s second book was a nonfiction work on a state trooper that was murdered in Effingham during the 1970s called “An Ordinary Day, The Story of Trooper Layton Davis.”

Ervin said he met Layton Davis’ son while studying at Lakeland, and after hearing the story and doing more research he decided to write a book about what happened.

His third and most recent book, “What Goes Around,” is his first full-length murder mystery novel which takes place in the Charleston and Mattoon area. Ervin began writing the manuscript eight or nine years ago.

“The book starts out with a prologue about a couple who leaves a frat party. The two end up at a house where the woman ends up being raped and murdered, and the case goes unsolved,” Ervin said.

Ervin said after the prologue, the story is set 20 years after the murder. During this first chapter an undercover narcotics agent is ambushed and murdered after meeting a local drug dealer, and this case also goes unsolved.

“The partner of the officer who is killed is concerned about the unsolved case, so he starts to look into things on his own,” Ervin said. “When he does he not only discovers information that points to who the killer is, but he also learns that there is a tie between the rape and murder from 20 years ago.”

Once the connection is made, the officer is on the run to serve justice for the woman and his partner’s cases.

Ervin said he will continue to write, and he is currently working on two different pieces. The first one will possibly be titled “Famous Cops You’ve Never Heard Of” and is going to be a collection of stories about obscure police officers.

For example, one of the stories Ervin will focus on is a victim of the Unibomber, a campus police officer who was first on the scene.

The other novel he’s working on is about a serial-killing vigilante who tracks down and murders pedophiles. Ervin said that this character believes he’s doing society a favor by ridding the world of these people.

Anyone who is interested in purchasing Ervin’s work can contact him at 217-246-7170 or reach out to him via email. The novel is $10.


Abbey Whittington can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]