Sometimes you’ll have a character who is so good, you want to keep them around for brief appearances in other stories. Readers might recognize the character from the original story. Or it might lead readers to go back and discover those characters again.
You see this on television shows a lot. A successful series like NCIS has spawned two other shows, the LA version and the New Orleans one. Occasionally characters from the original make an appearance in one of the other shows. There’s instant recognition for the audience.
I used a cameo with “Vanishing Act”. It was the perfect opportunity to introduce Jefferson Chene, another sergeant with the Michigan State Police who leads a major crime unit of detectives. Chene became a key player in the story.
At the same time, I was working on “Why 319?” so I knew the character well. Currently I’m writing the sequel to that novel and decided it was a perfect opportunity for Jamie to return the favor and make a guest appearance. We’ll have to see how that works out.
Here’s an excerpt from “Vanishing Act” with Chene’s entrance. In this scene Jamie has stopped by the State Police post to talk with Malone.
Malone was leaning against a desk, quietly talking with two other people. I hesitated in the background until I caught his eye. He smiled and waved me over and introduced me.
“Jamie, this is Sergeant Jefferson Chene and Detective Megan McDonald. They work with the multi-jurisdictional investigative squad.”
Chene gave me a thin smile and shook my hand. “We prefer Squad Six. It’s a lot less glorified, but it gets the job done.” His voice was low and deep.
“I’ve heard about you,” Megan McDonald said. “You’re the one who cracked the Kleinschmidt shooting. That was good work.”
I smiled at the compliment. “According to Malone, it was just a stubborn redhead with an active imagination. Hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
Chene easily shook his head. “No, we were just on our way across town from Ann Arbor. Thought I’d stop by and pick up the fifty bucks Malone owes me from the Patriots and Broncos game.”
“I told him not to bet against New England, but he wouldn’t listen,” I said.
Malone shrugged. “Hey, I’m a Denver fan. What can I say?”
While the cops bantered, I took a moment to study them. Chene was a light skinned black man, close to six feet in height, with a solid build. His black hair was clipped short. He was clean-shaven, with piercing, dark eyes. He had a short, jagged scar on his left cheek. McDonald was almost looked too pretty to be a cop. She had shoulder length blonde hair and hazel eyes. She was about my height. Her frame was muscular, but she still looked feminine. I had no doubt she could hold her own with the male officers.
“So what does a multi-jurisdictional investigative squad do?” I asked.
Megan gave me a wink. “We catch the bad guys. We can’t leave all the work to the civilians.”
“Most of our cases span different communities,” Chene said. “Sometimes they are in the same county, other times, it can involve several counties.”
“Do you collaborate with the different communities in your investigations?” I asked.
“Well, in some cases we do,” Megan said, “but usually they turn to us to take over the case. Sometimes it’s a matter of manpower or experience. Our boss kind of likes it when we’re left to work on our own.”
“Without the help of any nosy civilians,” I said.
“That goes without saying,” Chene said with another thin smile.
I looked at him closely. He reminded me of someone, but I couldn’t make the connection. “Your name is Jefferson Chene. Isn’t that an intersection in Detroit?”
Chene nodded once. “Yes, that’s right.”
I waited for him to elaborate, but there was nothing else coming.
Malone paid his debt. Chene made a show of holding the bill up to the light, as if to make certain it wasn’t counterfeit. Then he and McDonald headed out. When we were alone, Malone pulled me close for a hug. After a while we separated and I boosted myself up on the desk, letting my legs dangle.
Here's a shot of actress Hilarie Burton, who could easily play Jamie.