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 the book Cold Feet
By Karen Pullen We are honored to have with us today Stella Lavendar from the State Bureau of Investigation in North Carolina. Stella, tell us about yourself.
I’m a professional shopper, for drugs. In the market for coke, crack, smack, pot, ice, and pills. If you’re selling, I’m buying, and recording each transaction on video or voice. Later you’ll be visited by an arresting team, and you’d better lawyer up, agree to a plea deal, or join us–we can always use a cooperative informant. My employer is the state of North Carolina, the State Bureau of Investigation. I joined the SBI out of college, after I graduated with a BS in criminal justice, four years ago. I always wanted to be a cop, because of what happened to my mother. What happened to your mother?
When I was five, she went into a gas station to pay and intercepted a robbery. An
attendant was murdered and mom was abducted, never found. I became obsessed with
cold cases and the criminal justice system. For years I kept notebooks of murders and investigations and trials. I’ve promised my grandmother Fern that I’d find out what happened to my mother, some day. After your mother died, who raised you?
Fern. She is an artist, miserably poor, but she has a lot–I mean a lot–of boyfriends who take her out to dinner, do chores around her falling-down farmhouse, treat her to mini-vacations in charming B&Bs. She is light-hearted, amusing, and sexy. How did you become involved in this case?
Fern and I went to a wedding. We sat with the other guests on the lawn of this fake Scottish castle bed & breakfast, just waiting and waiting for the bride to walk down the aisle. After observing a kerfuffle between a bridesmaid and the innkeeper, I followed them inside to the bride’s bedroom. She was dead, her body contorted, and I suspected
poison. The investigating detective asked for my help because many of the people involved in the wedding were related to the local police. Once I had my boss’s permission, I was free to work on the case, though I had to continue doing my night job buying drugs. Tell us about this case.
The timing was curious. Did someone get cold feet and want to prevent the wedding? We were interested in the groom, of course. He swore that Justine was an angel and
couldn’t possibly have had any enemies. Well, Justine may have been a lovely person but a number of people were not happy with her. One guest had lost his job after a brief affair with her. The groom’s ex-girlfriend obsessively stalked him and crashed the wedding. An angry couple blamed their daughter’s disabilities on Justine, as the midwife present at the baby’s birth. And then it turned out that Justine’s past was very different from what one would assume. She’d kept it secret, or had she? Who knew? Was there ever a time during this case that you doubted those that you normally trust?
My grandmother Fern’s motives are mixed where men are concerned. When her new boyfriend turned out to be a drug dealer, she wasn’t sure whether to believe me when I told her he was dangerous. I could only tell her so much, because any involvement was unsafe for her and me. How dangerous was it to solve this case?
In my final encounter with Justine’s murderer, I nearly lost my own life while saving a witness. Furthermore, since I was concurrently working as a drug agent, physical danger was a continued possibility. After selling me a kilo of coke, a paranoid dealer evaded arrest and came looking for me. Good times. Did working on this case affect you emotionally?
On many levels. It was my first homicide case and I wanted to solve it to prove myself. It brought back memories of my mother’s presumed death, and wanting to bring solace to Fern. The danger to Fern – my only living relative – was real. Finally, the whole issue of marriage continued to churn around in my psyche. Neither my mother nor Fern married, but I had just been dumped by my fiancé Hogan in the midst of planning my own wedding. To make matters worse, I had to work on this case with Hogan, who is a fine SBI researcher. How did this case affect your personal life?
I sleep with my dog Merle while my grandmother has all the fun, though I developed a major crush on the investigating detective who is married and therefore off-limits. Working with Hogan, a serial cheater who hadn’t quite given me up, was challenging. It was an effort to remain professional.
Will you ever become a full-time homicide investigator?
Yes, tomorrow would be my preference, but my SBI boss wants me to keep buying drugs. He says I’m good at it because I don’t look like a cop. Yay for me. What do you do in your spare time?
During this case, I had none, because I had to fit the murder investigation around my regular assignment as a drug agent. I try to visit Fern a few times a week to make sure her house hasn’t fallen down yet, and go for a slow jog with my dog Merle. Guess that sounds boring, but after my workday, boring is just the ticket. Thank you for being with us today. Good luck with the …drug buying. Be sure and give Merle a treat for letting you visit with us. Karen Pullen
left a perfectly good job at an engineering consulting firm for more creative endeavors as an innkeeper and a fiction writer. Her B&B has been open for 12 years, and her fiction has been published in Every Day Fiction
, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
, and Spinetingler
. She earned an MFA from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine on beautiful Casco Bay. She lives in Pittsboro NC. Cold
is her first novel. She blogs at her website, www.karenpullen.com
where you can
also find details on a contest to win a weekend at Rosemary House B&B
(imagine spending a weekend in a cute artsy town and two nights in a charming historic B&B, an airjet tub for two, flickering fireplace, eggs Benedict and strawberry-topped Belgian waffles for breakfast). Cold Feet
will be published in January 2013. It’s currently available for pre-order at bookstores and online retail outlets, and should be on the street in early February.
The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid
J. Michael Orenduff
Whit Fletcher was born in Tucumcari in 1960. After graduating from Tucumcari High school where he made second team all-state as a defensive tackle, he joined the Army and trained as an MP at Fort Leonard Wood. He received an honorable discharge in 1981 and enrolled in the New Mexico Police Academy. He joined the APD in 1982, eventually working his way up to Detective First Grade in 1996.
So what have you been doing since the last big case?
Mostly trying to bust the drug dealers, but I’m getting to the point of wondering why we bother. If they ain’t back on the street in forty-eight hours, some other punk takes their place, and business continues as usual. Almost make me wish I was back in uniform.
How did you become involved in this case?
I usually get involved with Hubert Schuze when he gets into hot water because of his pot stealing, but this time he actually called me.
Tell us about this case.
Hubert told me a guy he knew was looking for old pots and accidentally dug up a body. And not an old mummy. This here was someone recently died. Or was killed. I say to him, “So you was out digging for pots and found a fresh corpse.”
“It wasn’t me,” he says.
“Right,” I say.
“It was a guy you know.”
“What’s his name?”
“See, that’s the problem. He told me about finding the dead guy because he wanted the
police to know. But he doesn’t want to get involved because he wasn’t supposed to be digging in a prehistoric site. So I can’t give you his name.”
“Okay, Hubert, I’ll play along. Where did this guy find the stiff?”
“I can’t tell you that, either.”
Well, we went round like that for a few minutes, and I agreed to nose around and see if there was a missing person that might be the body Hubert claims he didn’t find. And because there could have been some valuable pots in that site, I figured maybe there would be a few bucks in it for me being helpful.
Was there ever a time during this case that you doubted those that you normally trust?
Nah. I knew Hubert was lying to me right off, but he’s done that before, and it don’t stop me from trusting him. He’s so bad at lying that it never fooled no one. And every time he and I scratch each other’s backs, money seems to end up in my pocket.
How dangerous was it to solve this case?
He’s put me in a few tight places before, but this time the risk was all his. All I did was run down all the missing persons from the area he’s been digging in and match one up with the facts as we knew them. It was Hubert who figured out what happened to the dead guy. Then he pulled another one of his stunts and decided to check on the murderer to collect evidence. Damn near ended up in the grave where he had found the body.
Did working on this case affect you emotionally?
I guess you could say I was depressed for a while. I was hoping for half the money from one of them old Anasazi pots, but the bad guy who nearly killed Hubert had already picked the site clean. All Hubert could find was one lousy shard. That’s what they call a piece of one of them pots. Even a piece sold for a thousand bucks.
How did this case affect your personal life?
Well, I’m a big fan on University of New Mexico football. And my half of the shard money was enough to get one of those flat screen TV’s, although the way the Lobos have been playing, I can hardly stand to watch ‘em.
Just to wrap things up, what happened to the guy who killed the person Hubert found?
Well they couldn’t make a murder charge stick because the dead guy was one of those nuts who beat themselves with whips and even volunteer to haul a cross and be tied on it. Sometimes they even get their hands nailed to it. Someone dies under those circumstances, you can’t really say they were murdered. When I told Hubert that he said, “Maybe most of them are nuts, but some could be saints. Before you criticize a man, you should walk a mile in his moccasins.”
“That’s good advice,” I told him.
“It is?” he said. He seemed surprised that I liked his advice because he knows I don’t go in much for corny sayings like that.
“Sure,” I said. “It’s good advice because if he don’t like your criticism, there ain’t much he can do about it because you’re a mile away from him and he’s barefooted.”
But they did get the guy for kidnapping Hubert, so he’s in the State Pen.
Mike Orenduﬀ grew up in a house so close to the Rio Grande that he could Frisbee a tortilla into Mexico. While in graduate school at the University of New Mexico, he worked during the summer as a volunteer teacher at one of the nearby pueblos. After
receiving his M.A. at New Mexico and his Ph.D. at Tulane, he became a university professor. He went on to serve as President of New Mexico State University. He took early retirement from higher education to write his award-winning Pot Thief murder mysteries which combine archaeology and philosophy with humor and mystery. Among his many awards are the “Lefty” national award for best humorous mystery, two“Eppies” for the best eBook mysteries and the New Mexico Book of the Year Award. His books have been described by The Baltimore Sun as “funny at a very high intellectual level and deliciously delightful” and by The El Paso Timesas “the perfect fusion of murder, mayhem and margaritas.”
From So Close the Hand of Death the latest in the Taylor Jackson series by J.T. Ellison
We are honored to have Lieutenant Taylor Jackson from Metro Nashville Homicide with us today. Lt. Jackson, tell us why you work in law enforcement.
I have a burning desire to right the wrongs, restore balance to the universe, and keep the streets of Nashville safe.
Why is this case so special to you?
The Pretender has been running amuck for nearly a year, an omnipresent maliciousness in my life. But once he starts hurting those around me, that's it, all bets are off. I'm going to take him down myself, no matter what the cost.
What makes this case so hard to solve?
The fact that the Pretender has a cadre of his own apprentices committing murders across the country in the manner of the Son of Sam, the Boston Strangler and the Zodiac.
Who outside of the police department has helped you?
My fiancé Dr. John Baldwin, FBI Profiler extraordinaire, and Colleen Kick, a true crime blogger.
Has this case affected your personal life in any way?
It shifts my very core, making me do things I've promised never to do.
Thank you, Lt. Jackson for being with us today. We appreciate you dedicating your life to keeping the streets of Nashville safe. We wish you the best in catching the Pretender and his cadre.
is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Taylor Jackson series, with novels published in 21 countries. A former White House staffer, she moved to Nashville and began research on a passion: forensics and crime. She has worked extensively with the Metro Nashville Police, the FBI and various other law enforcement organizations to research her novels. Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and a poorly trained cat. Visit www.JTEllison.com
or follow her on Twitter @Thrillerchick. So Close the Hand of Death
(March, 2011) is the 6th book in the Taylor Jackson series, and the 7th novel JT has written. The books are available everywhere books are sold in mmpb, audio and digital.