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 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.
from Blonde Demolition
by Chris Redding Trey McCrane is an agent for the Department of Homeland Security. He’s been an agent for ten years. He joined after he left a stint in the army. He was Special Forces, mostly black ops.
Agent McCrane, tell us about this case. What made it so special?
This case is special because we’ve already tried to take out this bad guy. This is the reason I’m trying to get my old partner, Mallory Sage, to come back. We have to finish this case. We left too many loose ends including Paul Stanley still out of jail. What made the case hard to solve?
This time we were on the run and didn’t have DHS as a backup. Did anyone outside of the DHS help you solve this case?
Yes, an old friend and his wife. Stone and Jo gave us a place to stay. They helped us with surveillance and helped us obtain weapons. We could not have broken this case without them. Has this case affected your personal life in any way?
Mallory was initially not happy to see me, but we’ve been able to work out our differences. I’ve made some changes in my work. How is Mallory as a partner?
She’s the best partner I’ve ever had. I could not wait to bring her back into DHS. She’s smart and tough and she seems to know what I’m thinking before I do. I’d go through a door with her any day.Thank you for being with us today and for the work you do with the Department of Homeland Security.
Thanks for having me. Chris Redding
lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids, one dog and three rabbits. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. When she isn’t writing she works part time at her local hospital. Blonde Demolition
was released in electronic form November 15. It is her sixth book published all of which are romantic suspense. You can purchase Blonde Demolition
at Amazon, Smashwords or Barnes and Noble. You can find her on the web: www.chrisreddingauthor.com
from Behind the Redwood Door,
by John M. Daniel Blue Heron is the sheriff of Jefferson County, the smallest county in California. It’s so small most people haven’t heard of it, and it’s on the rugged, rocky coast up north in Redwood Country, between the Pacific Ocean and the skyline of the Jefferson Alps range. Blue Heron, a member of the Steelhead Tribe, has been Sheriff since the early 1990s, and the case he remembers best happened back in the summer of 1999.
Sheriff Heron, tell us about that case. What made this case so special?
Call me Blue. Everybody around here does. Well, to start with it was a clear-cut case of
cold-blooded murder, plain and simple, except the cut wasn’t clear, it was ugly; and the case wasn’t simple, it was a jar of black widows. Okay, so Pete Thayer, the editor of the Jefferson Nickel
back when it was a political weekly with a radical slant, got himself stabbed in the throat with a kitchen knife next to the Dumpster out back of the Redwood
Door tavern. Gloria, she owns the Redwood Door, called me and I was over there like a jackrabbit, my cherry-top pulsing like the heart of an elk in rut.
There he was, poor Pete, slumped down against the brick wall, looking more surprised than he looked dead. But he was dead, all right. And parked there, not twenty feet from the body, was Seamus Connolly’s dark blue BMW.
River Webster wanted me to haul old Seamus in and string him up at dawn. Not only because Pete was River’s lover, but also because Seamus was the publisher and editor of the Jefferson Republican,
and let’s just say the two newspapers didn’t see quite eye to
eye. But mainly, let’s face it, those Connollys and those Websters have hated each other since day one, and day one was way over a hundred years ago. What made the case so hard to solve?
Well, of course I was just itching to book old Seamus, even if it was just for illegal parking, but turns out he had an alibi, seeing as how he was over in Redding with his girlfriend that night. My next suspect was Seamus’s teenage son, Chunky, a hell-raiser if there ever was one, but Chunky had an alibi, too. Then I was taken off the case. Taken off the case? But aren’t you the sheriff?
Yes, but the damn powers that be decided this was a city crime, not a county crime, so they—namely Seamus Connolly and his cronies, who do their drinking over at the Wildcat Saloon—gave the case to Wayne Marvin, the total incompetent chief of police. What an idiot. He charged River Webster with the murder, of all people. That didn’t stick either of course.
Are you saying you didn’t solve the case?
I’m not saying that. I got involved when there were more crimes involved, related crimes, outside the city limits. Up in the Jefferson Alps. Showdown time. Did anyone outside your department, or outside law enforcement, help you solve the case?
Well, River badgered me a lot, and of course I put up with a lot of badgering when it was River doing it. I still do. And then there was Guy Mallon. Him and his wife Carol own the used booktore in town. Nice folks, but that Guy has a talent for stepping in piles of trouble. Stubborn and touchy, you know what I mean? I guess a lot of short guys are like that. They’ve had to put up with a lot of teasing all their life, and Guy was shorter than
most. Like Mickey Rooney, Danny DeVito, that kind of short. That kind of stubborn, too. Wouldn’t let go. Seemed to love trouble. He was a pain in the butt, is what he was, but I got to admit, I never could have brung the murderer to justice if it weren’t for that little shrimp. In fact, weren’t for him I’d be one dead sheriff. Did this case affect your personal life in any way?
Oh lordy, yes. The good news is I lost forty pounds as a direct result of the case.And the bad news?
I can’t drink coffee anymore. I haven’t had a cup of coffee in over twelve years. Not even decaf. I suppose that’s not such a bad thing, but can you imagine an Indian sheriff sipping camomile tea?Thank you for being with us today, Blue. Congratulations on your weight loss.
John M. Daniel is a freelance editor and writer. He has published dozens of stories in literary magazines and is the author of ten published books, including three mystery
novels: Play Melancholy Baby, The Poet’s Funeral, and Vanity Fire. He and his wife, Susan, own a small-press publishing company in Humboldt County,California, where they live with their wise cat companion,Warren.
Behind the Redwood Door is the third Guy Mallon mystery and is published by Oak Tree Press: http://www.oaktreebooks.com/. You can order direct from the publisher, or ask your local independent bookstore to order it for you. The book can also be ordered online from Amazon or Barnes& Noble. For an autographed copy, see ordering instructions on John’s website: http://www.danielpublishing.com/jmd/index.html.
from A Hard Day’s Fright and six other Pepper Martin mysteries by Casey Daniels Visiting today, Pepper Martin, tour guide in Cleveland’s Garden View Cemetery and world’s only private investigator for the dead. Pepper, you are not with the police department. How and why did you get involved in this case?
It all started at the cemetery where I work when I tripped and hit my head on the mausoleum of an old mob boss named Gus Scarpetti. The next day when I came to work, Gus was there waiting for me. Yeah, dead guy. But that didn’t stop him. It hasn’t stopped any of the ghosts since. I’ve investigated cases for a rock star from the 60s (if you heard the gossip, it’s true, we did fall in love), a long-dead president and in my most recent case, a teenager who went to a Beatles concert back in 1966—and was never seen again. When did you know you were able to communicate with ghosts?
Like I said, it never happened until that unfortunate fall in the cemetery. Up until then, my life had been blissfully ghost-free. Now? Not so much. Tell us about this case.
My most recent case involves a girl named Lucy. She attended that Beatles concert with a group of friends and left for home with them. But she was the last one off the train, and no one ever saw her again. Honestly, I don’t think I would have bothered with ol’ Lucy if it wasn’t for the fact that it turns out my boss, Ella Silverman, was one of those kids at the concert with her. Even after all these years, Ella still misses her friend. Bad enough, yes, for a PI to the dead who’d rather avoid a case? Worse, because I realized Ella still felt guilty about leaving Lucy alone that night. Don’t let word of this get around, but truth be told, I’ve got a pretty soft heart. I couldn’t stand the thought of sweet, fluffy Ella feeling bad about something that wasn’t her fault. I had no choice but to investigate. What made the case hard to solve?
Well, 40-year-old murder for one thing. For another? No one ever found Lucy’s body. No corpse, no clues, and a ghost who told me she couldn’t rest in peace until she was properly buried. Yeah, all that was hard enough, add to it a few other complications, like my on-again-off-again relationship with Quinn Harrison, bullheaded, hunky Homicide detective. Did anyone help you with your investigation?
If we use the word“help” it its broadest sense, yes. Ariel, Ella’s annoying teenaged daughter for one. Once she decided she wanted to be a detective just like me, there was no getting rid of the kid. Then there was Ella, of course, because she knew more about Lucy than anyone. And the other kids (now adults) who were at the concert with Lucy that night. Oh, and I can’t forget Reggie and Delmar, two guys I met on a previous investigation. Don’t worry, nothing we did (well, nothing anyone ever found out about) violated their probation. Has this case affected your personal life in any way?
Oh yeah, big time. For one thing, finding the solution to the mystery helped out Ella. That was a big plus. For the other . . . well, something happened to Quinn. Something Big. I’m not going to divulge anything here, let’s just say it turned both our worlds upside down. Has being able to communicate with the dead changed your life?
Absolutely, and not for the better. Being shot at, knifed, kidnapped, mugged, etc., etc., etc., isn’t exactly my idea of a good time. Then again, I have helped a few ghosts cross over, and I made sure one really bad ghost got what she deserved. So if nothing else, I suppose I’m performing a public service. Provided the public we’re talking about is dead. Casey Daniels
once applied for a job as a tour guide in a cemetery. She didn’t get the job, but she did get the idea for the Pepper Martin mysteries. Pepper works in a cemetery and solves mysteries for the ghosts there. A Hard Day’s Fright
(released last April) is the seventh book in the series. It will be followed by Wild, Wild Death,
which will hit store shelves on January 3,and by a ninth book which she’s working on now.
Before writing mysteries, Casey wrote both historical and contemporary romance under the names Constance Laux and Connie Lane. She’s also written YA horror as Zoe Daniels. All told, she’s published 40 books and has been nominated for the prestigious RITA award by Romance Writers of America.
In addition to writing the Pepper Martin mysteries, she also writes (as Kylie Logan) the Button Box mysteries. The first book in that series, Button Holed
, premiered in September.
She can be found atwww.caseydaniels.com
and every Wednesday at www.thelittleblogofmurder.com
. Her books are available in bookstores and online and she urges readers not to forget independent bookstores when they do their shopping.
Two readers who leave comments will be chosen to receive a copy of one of Marja McGraw's books.
Sandi Webster is from Old Murders Never Die
by Marja McGraw. Chris Cross is from Bogey
, also by Marja McGraw. Today Sandi Webster and Chris Cross are visiting all the way from Los Angeles. Sandi is a female private eye who has more fun investigating crimes and murders than any gumshoe should be allowed. Chris Cross bears a striking resemblance to Humphrey Bogart, and he’s the one everyone actually calls a Gumshoe.
Sandi, and Chris, how did you decide to become private investigators?
Sandi: I got into this line of work for all the wrong reasons. I grew up watching vintage mystery movies with my mother, and when I watched those old P.I.’s search for clues and get their man, I just knew that was the life for me. They made it look so romantic and fun. It turned out I was right, although it is a lot of hard work.
Chris is an amateur detective. I don’t think he and his wife, Pamela, should be solving crimes because they’re not professionals, but I have to admit they do manage to get the job done. Chris and I met when he started following me, trying to learn the business. By the way, I introduced him to Pamela.
Sandi tried to give me the bum’s rush, but I’ll give her points for knowing Pamela. I’m
not really a P.I. My wife and I own a forties-themed hash house. There was a time when I wanted to be a gumshoe, and that’s when I met the Dish here. She did some fancy footwork to show me I wasn’t cut out to be a private Dick, but we managed to solve a case together anyway. Now people come to me, asking me to solve crimes. What is the hardest thing about being a private eye?
Sandi: Patience is a virtue. Uh, I guess I’m not very virtuous. I find myself sighing a lot because things simply don’t go the way I want them to, and this is a frequent occurrence. I don’t have a lot of patience.
Patience? She’s not just whistlin’ Dixie. She had no patience with me. This dame tried everything to get rid of me, but I was tenacious. Sandi:
Did you see that? He rolled his upper lip under and pulled on his ear lobe. Sometimes I think he really believes
he’s Bogey reincarnated. Chris:
Okay, I was wet behind the ears, but I ain’t got bats in my belfry. I can follow clues with the best of ‘em. And I have put a couple of goons in the slammer, without
Sandi’s help. Tell us about this case.
My partner, Pete, and I decided to take a well-deserved vacation. It didn’t come as a surprise to me when we got lost in the mountains of Arizona. Hm. Pete never listens to me. Anyway, what did surprise me was that we found a ghost town which was just as the people who’d lived there left it. We became stranded when this cowboy, on horseback no less, tinkered with our Jeep. We found an old house to stay in and ran across the records of the old-time sheriff from 1880. He wrote about a series of murders. When you’re stranded in a ghost town, there’s not a whole lot to do after you’ve gone through the old buildings that are still standing. We began reading the records to see if we could solve the crime from what information the sheriff had left.
In the meantime, that crazy cowboy kept getting in our way and under my skin. What a pain in the… Oh, and I can’t forget Bubba, my half wolf/half Golden retriever. He was with us. Now Bubba is about the size of a small bear, and he’s as graceful as that ol’ bull in the China shop. In other words, between being lost, having a big dog, a boyfriend, a mysterious cowboy and being stranded in a town haunted by old murders, I had the best time of my life. Seriously. I really did. Chris:
I heard about that caper. I wish the Dollface and I had been with you.
Our case started when the original restaurant burned down. Pamela and I bought a 1920s-style house to convert into the new eatery. Before we even got the renovations started, Sherlock and Watson discovered a stiff buried in the basement. Oh, those are our two yellow Labrador retrievers.
Unlike the cupcake sitting next to me, I’ll keep my story short. According to the coppers the cadaver has been underground since the forties. Anyway, we found out the vintage home had once been a boarding house, and we followed clues to find the killer. And let me tell you, we were mighty surprised. I have a seven-year-old stepson named Mikey. I call him Ace. He helped out, too, although they told him to deep six the dead body talk at
school. Zero tolerance stuff. I should mention that we took on the case at the insistence of Midge and Pidge, relatives of the stiff. They wouldn’t take no
for an answer.Sandi, does he always talk like this?(Shaking her head)
Yes What made the case hard to solve?
The fact that the murders took place around 1880, which meant all witnesses and victims were long gone. And so were most of the clues, although we did uncover a few surprising things. Chris:
The bride and I had it a little easier than Sandi. A number of people who were around the boarding house in the forties were still breathing. But it was hard to eyeball everything when the caper took place so long ago. Did anyone help you with your investigation?
Just my partner, Pete. Well, I have to be fair. Bubba helped in his own doggie way. Chris:
Ours was a family affair. Pamela, Ace and the dogs all did their bit to help solve the crime. Well, we also have a copper friend named Janet Murphy. She might have done her part. Has this case affected your personal life in any way? Sandi:
In the long run it did, and it will continue to cause some major changes in my life. Chris:
Change my personal life? You betcha. Now every Tom, Dick and Harry in Los Angeles wants help solving crimes. Sometimes we have to play it kinda close to the vest so we don’t step on the coppers toes, but thanks to Pamela we have a connection at the P.D. now. And Ace sees a mystery in every corner. That kid is crazy like a fox--way too savvy for his age. He wants a mystery to solve, and he won’t let it go. Sandi:
Paula, thank you so much for allowing me to visit and share a little about my latest case. Who knows? Maybe this interview will drum up some new business for me and Pete. Chris:
Yeah, thanks, Angel. This has been a hoot, but I guess I’d better take a powder now. (He holds out his hand.)
Slip me some skin, and have a good life.Thank you, Sandi and Chris, for being with us. We wish you the best in solving future cases.
Note: Sandi and Chris first met in The Bogey Man
by Marja McGraw. Two lucky readers will be chosen at random to receive one of Marja McGraw's books. Just leave a comment between now and October 21. Marja McGraw
has written eight books including the Sandi Webster Mysteries and the Bogey Man Mysteries. She was the editor for the Sisters in Crime Internet Newsletter for a year and a half. She’s appeared on television and been a guest on various radio and Internet radio shows. She currently resides in Arizona with her husband, where life is good
. Her latest book, Old Murders Never Die
, was released July, 2011. Information on her or any of her books can be found on her website: www.marjamcgraw.com
or blog http://blog.marjamcgraw.com/
. Catch the trailer for Old Murders Never Die
from Blinded by the Sight
by S.L. Smith We have with us today Lt. Peter Culnane with the St. Paul Police Department. Lt. Culnane, please tell us about yourself.
Most people call me Pete … or a number of other names that don’t bear repeating. I’m a lieutenant on the St. Paul Police Department. Incidentally, in St. Paul we’re called investigators, not detectives. I’ve been with the St. Paul PD for nine years. Pete, tell us about this case. What made it so special?
This case was special right out of the chute. The murdered man was believed to be homeless, but he was wearing a ring with a huge diamond. That made no sense. The body was reported by two young boys who disappeared a short time later. Attempting to determine the reason for their disappearance and whether they were safe became another priority. The lack of cooperation from some members of the victim’s family made
parts of the investigation difficult and revealed they were a splintered and secretive group. When all was said and done, I was amazed by the ways an attempt to help someone can go awry, ruining many lives. Did anything make this case hard to solve?
Two words sum it up: loyalties and fear. The victim’s family was torn by conflicting
loyalties. Those loyalties were long-standing and divisive. In addition, poor communication meant family members were afraid of implicating each other and themselves. Fear also dictated the actions of others critical to solving the case. This fear wore many faces: the rejection of one’s cohort, the retribution of a parent or an employer, and betrayal to name just a few. Interestingly enough, each time fear was a factor, loyalty was always a part of that equation. Did anyone outside of the police department help you solve this case?
The two boys who reported the body and a homeless man were key. Although I’m not in a position to discuss the boys, gaining the trust and cooperation of the homeless man was essential. Also, out of necessity, I solicited the cooperation of another police department. The cop with whom I worked was a real team player. Has this case affected your personal life in any way?
During this investigation, I gained a glimpse into and appreciation for both the plight of the homeless and the absurdity of the stereotypes attributed to this group. It’s now impossible for me, as a regular citizen, to ignore a request for help from one of these people. I’m enough of a realist to know that the money doesn’t always go for the stated purpose. Whenever possible, I provide for the stated need in lieu of cash. Anything else?
We all assume things, and we often act on those assumptions. This case provided an excellent example of the tragedy that can result. Several people acted on assumptions they either failed to verify or were afraid to verify. They went off half-cocked and made
tragic mistakes—and the tragedy touched many lives. What a waste! I wish I knew of a way to get people to think more and react less. Yes, that includes me.
The last thing is more difficult to share. Since my wife’s death, I’ve avoided the opposite sex by hiding behind my job. Having run into a former acquaintance during this investigation, I feel like I’m ready to pick up and carry on. And I love kids, want some of my own, but I want to do it the traditional way. My job makes my hours irregular and unpredictable, so I think it’s even more important for someone like me to ensure the stability of a traditional life foe my future. Pete, we wish you well with future investigations. I'm glad that you are ready to move forward in your personal life.
S. L. (Sharon) Smith
was born in St. Cloud and moved to the Twin Cities after graduating from St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul. For Blinded by the Sight
, S. L. drew upon her education in psychology, a career with vast amounts of law enforcement interaction, and her thrill for the investigative hunt. She is a member of the National Writers Union and Sisters in Crime (an organization that supports mystery writers). Blinded by the Sight
was released on September 1, 2011 and is available at many St. Paul and Minneapolis bookstores. For more information visit her website www.slsmithbooks.com
or email her at email@example.com
by Stephen L. Brayton Her name is Mallory Petersen. She is a six foot blonde private investigator with a Fourth Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. She owns her own business and martial arts school.
How and why did you get involved in this case?
Cheryl McGee stopped into my office Monday morning and wanted to hire me to find her eight year old daughter, Cindy, who went missing the previous Saturday. Cindy was the latest in a string of children believed to have been kidnapped in the region in the last eighteen months.Why was this case so special?
Talking with an officer friend and the lead investigator, I discovered a possible connection to child pornography. I followed some leads given to me by an informant buddy and wound up encountering a bunch of seriously perverted people. Did anything make this case difficult to solve?
The links in the case were tenuous and I had to follow a trail of clues leading me out of Des Moines, Iowa, down to the little south central town of Oskaloosa, then all the way up to the Quad Cities. Plus, I kept getting more frustrated with each dead end. Did anyone help you with your investigation?
Of course, my secretary and friend, Darren provided some information. Also helping me out was my little informant Willy Washington who I met years ago trying to steal my car. Then I meet dreamboat investigator Lawrence Cameron out of the Quad Cities. He and I spent an entire day together searching different places for Cindy. Has this case affected your personal life in any way?
Well, meeting Lawrence certainly. I think I found a new wonderful boyfriend. But the missing child and the exposure to child pornography really affected me because I instruct children in martial arts training, and to see this one child and to learn of so many more subjected to this horrible crime pushed me to the limit mentally and morally.Thank you for being with us today, Mallory. We wish you well in trainiing in your private investigations and in teaching children martial arts. Stephen L. Brayton
lives in Oskaloosa, Iowa and is a Fifth Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. Beta
is scheduled to be released October 1. His other works include “Night Shadows” and four short stories. Information on his works can be found on his website at www.stephenbrayton.com
. He can also be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
from Devil’s Kitchen by Clark Lohr.
We have with us today Manuel Aguilar. Born in Tucson, Arizona, he is a product of a tripartite society: Anglo, Latino, and Native American. His cultural and racial heritage goes back many years before English-speaking Europeans came to dominate the Southwestern US. Aguilar is bilingual. He served for sixteen years with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department and was fired over complications arising from a murder case. He currently works as a private investigator for Jeffrey Goldman, a criminal defense attorney.
You were fired over a murder case? How did that happen?
I was fired over what, at first, looked to me like a simple murder case—a decapitated head found in a county landfill. Once we’d got the dead guy ID’d, I started looking at people around the case. Those people started dying. One of them was shot to death. That’s unusual. I didn’t want to let the case go. I kept pushing the case and was involved in several shooting incidents as a result. The sheriff’s department fired me. Then my girlfriend, Reina, got me to go to work for Jeff Goldman.
What made this case hard to solve?
The case was hard to solve because there were powerful people involved who didn’t want the case solved. These people had corrupt law enforcement on their side and a bunch of sicarios, Mexican nationals, killers, who work under the radar in the US.
You mentioned your girlfriend Reina. Did she help you solve the case?
I couldn’t have done it without Reina.
Did anyone else help you?
Johnny Oaks, who’s also a PI—and Goldman. I got help from the few friends I had left in the sheriff’s department, too. There was a kid involved, a runaway teenager. She had good information and we used it. I also had a Yaqui grandmother who helped.
Did this case affect your personal life in any way?
My personal life? Yeah, it made it better, emotionally. I got hurt physically, but I came through knowing a lot more about what’s out there, the stuff you can’t see—call it the spirit world if you want to. Reina’s in my life. She’s as important to me as my job. We came through it even closer than we were before.
Thank you for being with us today. We wish you and Reina the best and appreciate what you do.
Clark Lohr comes from a Montana farm and ranch background. He is a Vietnam vet and a member of Veterans for Peace. He’s lived mostly in Tucson, Arizona since the late Sixties. Devil’s Kitchen was published by Oak Tree Press and released in June 2011. The book is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powell’s Books. Visit clarklohr.com for more information.