From Bad Policy
by James M. JacksonThank you for being with us today, Seamus. Tell us about yourself.
Lots of people wonder how to pronounce my first name. It’s “Shay-mus.” No one seems to have a problem pronouncing McCree, although they often spell it wrong.
Since I claim to be a basically honest guy, I need to fess up from the beginning that calling myself a cop is stretching the truth. I actually work for Criminal Investigations Group, CIG for short, and every blue moon or two I am deputized for whatever police department we are assisting. Most recently I worked with a cop named Bear who got me deputized for the Ross County (Ohio) Sherriff’s Department.
If it counts for anything, my father was a police sergeant in Boston until he was killed while on duty. I just learned the full details of his death and they shocked me something fierce. I have a son, Paddy who just graduated from college, and I am proud as heck of him. I say he’s the king of nonsequitors, but if I don’t get back on track you’re going to think it’s hereditary.
I grew up Irish in Boston and escaped after college. I was a top-rated bank analyst on Wall Street until I quit in disgust. Buy me a beer, I’ll tell you the whole story, but I didn’t have anything to do with the recent banking crisis, except to warn it was coming. Anyway, I quit and it cost me a ton of money and what was left of my marriage.
I was looking around for something to do and the head of Criminal Investigations Group asked me to set up a financial crimes group for them. CIG originally assisted police departments across the country with cold crimes. After 9/11 the FBI shifted major resources from financial crimes to terrorism. CIG decided to try to fill the breech. I used my contacts and put together a world-class group of financial sleuths. Afterwards, I stayed on and used my background to help solve crimes. So you like numbers and stuff? Yuck.
You know, if everyone was good at numbers, I couldn’t have made a living since I bend three nails for everyone I hit straight. Fact is, if I stuck with numbers I might stay out of trouble, but I’m always wondering not only what happened but why it happened. It’s the why that gets me in trouble. How did you become involved in this case?
Normally I work on cases remotely, but the one that got me to hook back up with the Ross County Sherriff’s office and dig into my father’s death started when an insurance broker I had met on a previous case showed up dead in my basement. He had suffered an IRA six pack (shot in the ankles, knees and elbows) before someone finished him off with a shotgun blast. Naturally, the cops thought I was involved, and sometimes when
they have a prime suspect they focus all their attention on him. I knew I was
being framed and needed to prove it. Tell us about this case.
I’m friends with Lt. Tanya Hastings who is the head of the Cincinnati Police Department’s homicide unit. It’s a conflicted relationship and this situation didn’t make it any better. When she doubted my innocence, I knew I was in trouble. What I had not anticipated was how twisted and evil some people can be—especially when they think they and their family have been wronged. Most financial crimes are intellectual. This vendetta against me was based on long-simmering hate against my family—and I had no clue until I started kicking over rusty cans. Was there ever a time during this case that you doubted those that you normally trust?
In the middle of this case I figured out my Uncle Mike was lying to me. Uncle Mike isn’t actually my uncle, he’s my godfather and took over my discipline (which I badly needed) after my father’s death. He’s a retired Boston Police Department Captain and I had always known him to be a straight shooter. Turned out he had hidden information from me about how my father died. A bigger problem for me was that people who normally trusted me suddenly did not. I suppose that’s natural when you’re a suspect, but it was a
real shock for me since I’ve made it one of my main principals to be trustworthy. How dangerous was it to solve this case?
When I think of danger, I think of our troops in combat or of the beat cop who tries to stop a crime. Those women and men put themselves in real danger every day. By its nature, having motivated people trying to kill you is dangerous, and that did happen on this case. Unlike our troops or the beat cops, I could take evasive measures. Plus, when it comes to stuff like that, I’m probably not smart enough to be scared. Did working on this case affect you emotionally?
It’s one thing for someone to target me because I’ve upset their criminal enterprise. That I can handle; it goes with the job. It’s quite another thing when the criminals target your loved ones. I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t read the book, but when those close to me were hurt I became an emotional wreck. It not only affected my emotions, it affected my ability to think clearly. My normal strength of rational thinker was sorely tested. How did this case affect your personal life?
I think the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is relevant. My house was effectively destroyed by fire. I almost lost two loved ones. Yet the fire forced me to recognize what things were really important to me. The trauma with loved ones brought us closer together. It would have been much better to have gained this knowledge without the excitement, but at least something positive (besides catching the crooks) came out of the turmoil.
JAMES M JACKSON is the author of Bad Policy
for Barking Rain Press. Known as James Montgomery Jackson on his tax return and to his mother whenever she was really mad at him, he splits his time between the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Georgia’s low country. Jim has published a book on contract bridge, One Trick at a Time: How to start winning at bridge
, as well as numerous short stories and essays. Bad Policy
is available wherever Jim’s travels take him, from online booksellers or his website
. Read the first four chapters
for free. You can find his current schedule
on his website http://jamesmjackson.com
where you can also sign up for his quarterly newsletter.
From:Cover of Snow
Milchman You are different from many of the cops I have interviewed. Please tell us about yourself.
I never wanted to be a cop. How many guys do you know who want to be the same thing as their father? Well, maybe some do, guys who look up to the old man, want to be just like him. I wish I were one of them, but I’m not. Nobody looked up to my father, so how was I supposed to? I was all set to go to law school, but then I met Nora. And something in her called me home. I didn’t want the two of us to keep on living our big city life, her helping to put me through law school, and then me working seventy hours a week in an office and never even seeing her. It wasn’t exactly a conscious decision on my part to
return to Wedeskyull, or join the force where my dad served his twenty before he died. Like I said, something called me home. How did you become involved in this case?
Here’s where things get weird. I’m not involved in this case. Because I’m dead. The case is what happened to me—and Nora, though she isn’t a cop, is the only person who has a chance to solve it, because she’s the only one who’s willing to face the truth. Tell us about this case.
Something bad happened on January 16th , bad enough that I don’t think I ever really looked up after that again. The following week passed in a way I didn’t know time could go. Just—unnoticed. I must’ve eaten, I must’ve drank, dressed, breathed. But I don’t remember doing any of it. I can’t imagine what Nora thought. I felt like was wrapped up in blankets. I couldn’t figure out why everyone kept talking to me. Didn’t they know I was already gone?
I’m not sure if Nora’s going to be able to figure out what happened on the 16th. She’s still stumbling around a lot farther in the past than that, trying to learn a secret I was never able to tell her. If she can’t find out about what happened to me when I was eleven, she’ll never be able to figure out this more recent crime.
No one besides me knows the whole truth. And I’m dead. Was there ever a time during this case that you doubted those that you normally trust?
I trust Nora more than I’ve ever trusted anyone else in my life. But the rest of them? I don’t trust a single one. And neither should you. How dangerous was it to solve this case?
If I hadn’t died, I think they would’ve killed me. Did working on this case affect you emotionally?
This case was all about emotion. See, I did something really bad when I was eleven years old. Something unforgivable. My own parents never forgave me for it—my mother anyway—so you know it must be as bad as anything could get. But I was able to get past it the way cops survive any bad day on the job. You take what happened and you put it in a box. You padlock that box and then you forget the combination. Any cop worth his salt has a hundred boxes like that. A thousand.
So that’s what I did. And I was surviving okay. I had a good life, in fact. I loved my wife, even if I couldn’t give her the one thing she wanted most. I was better on the job than I ever would’ve been doing something else.
And then something happened, on that January day, and it didn’t matter if I’d forgotten the combination, someone took a big ole hacksaw and split open the box. And what was inside killed me. How did this case affect your personal life?
My personal life? My life you mean. My whole life. I lost it. I appreciate you being with us today. I have one more question. (He leaves) Please come back. What was in the box? Jenny Milchman
is a suspense novelist from New Jersey whose short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine’s
Department of First Stories, Adirondack Mysteries II,
and in an e-published volume called Lunch Reads
. Jenny is the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, and the chair of International Thriller Writers’ Debut Authors Program. Her first novel, Cover of Snow
, is published by Ballantine and
available everywhere books are sold. When Cover of Snow
comes out, Jenny is embarking on a six month tour with her family, town-to-town, bookstore-to-bookstore, library-to-library, and other venues that readers will enjoy. Please check her website http://jennymilchman.com/tour/
for places to come meet Jenny—and her cop.
from Force of Habit
by Marian Allen Allow me to introduce Pel Darzin of the Meadow of Flowers District constabulary in Council City, the capital city of the planet Llannonn. Council City is the Central City of the Meadow of Flowers District. Down these mean streets--well, a bit mean, but not too mean, because the Llannonninn are courteous people--walks this man. Darzin came up through the ranks from constable and knows his city and his district inside and out.
District Criminal Investigator Darzin, tell us about this case. What made it so special?
The special thing about this case was how convoluted it appeared, and how simple it actually was, once I saw through to the one, all-important fact at the heart of it. There were these aliens from outer space, you see, and then there were these other aliens from outer space. And the second aliens saved one of our people from the first aliens, although first one of the second aliens put her in greater jeopardy. Bookkeeper Freldt Saymak of
Jok'rel's Traveler's Rest Inn, called to report that Gord Pron, an enforcer for a well-known Stokk criminal, was extorting her to cook her boss' books. I arranged to meet her and listen in while she maneuvered him into repeating his plot. But, before I got there, a party of Terrans -- well, mostly Terrans -- came to Jok'rel's for shore leave, and the rest is history. Some say Professor Isobel Schuster changed places with Freldt Saymak by chance, but I know better. What made the case hard to solve?
All the aliens. And, of course, all the criminals. There was the Stokk Gord Pron and boss and his henchman, there was a member of our own Grand Council working with Pron's boss, there was a Terran con man named Connell Morgan and, technically, myself. Frankly, Communications Commissioner Darlla Bute didn't make matters any easier. We joke about that now.Did anyone outside of the police department help you solve this case?
Oh, yes. Oh, my, yes. The Irregulars were invaluable, as always. I understand your own Sherlock Holmes had his own Irregulars, is that right? I'd like to compare notes with him some day. The crew and teaching staff of the Space Academy training ship St. Gregory the Wonderworker
were invaluable allies; we were all very impressed. And, of course, the
mysterious Bel. This is Bel's story, really, you know. I'm humbled and proud to have played my part.Has this case affected your personal life in any way?
Professionally, which is closely related to my personal life, I feel much more comfortable dealing with Terrans, which has boosted my career. Although we have a variety of aliens from outer space on Llannonn, the Terran mind is the most difficult for us to fathom. Terrans are much more complex than we give them credit for being. Too many of us give up and simply treat them as if they were insane, which is a mistake. An understandable
mistake, but a mistake. When I get what you would call my twenty years' service in, I plan to retire to the rural part of the Meadow of Flowers District and raise pratties. I couldn't afford that, if it hadn't been for the salary advancement and Terran/Llannonninn liaison fees this case instigated for me.Thank you for being with us today, District Criminal Investigator Darzin. I wish you the best as you fight crime in outer space.
lives in rural Indiana. For as long as she can remember, she has loved telling and being told stories. Allen has had stories in on-line and print publications, on
coffee cans and the wall of an Indian restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky. Force of Habit
is her second book. For more information on her or any of her books visit her website at Marian Allen - Fantasies, Mysteries, Comedies, Recipes
or her Facebook Author page Marian Allen Author
. A short story also featuring Pel Darzin is free atSmashwords