From Bad Policy by James M. Jackson
Thank 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.