With the wonders of technology, it would appear that our world is shrinking. A generation ago, just the idea of communicating with someone on the other side of the globe would be limited to either a very brief (and expensive) telephone call or to an envelope in the mail (yes, snail mail!) with a letter and perhaps a picture or two. How difficult it must have been to keep in touch with family and friends!
Recently I was chatting with another professor whose family lived in Japan when she was a child. Every week they would tape record messages about whatever new and exciting adventures they had experienced. These tapes were then mailed back to her grandparents in the US. They spent five years in Japan. A few years ago while visiting with her family, they found those old audio tapes and the memories came racing back. Nowadays it’s not uncommon to have conversations and video chats with people in Japan on a regular basis.
Within the last month, I’ve received a couple of 5 star reviews on “Why 319?” from people in the United Kingdom. But what really got my attention was one that popped up last week from a reader in Australia! I was temporarily at a loss for words, which is not a good thing for a writer!
Here’s the reader’s reaction: “The twists and turns really keep you on your toes and propel you to turn the pages. The procedures and methods of the cases are very methodical and systematic and it was a delight to read. Koz, Laura, Megan, Bloomfield and Jarrett are memorable characters along with the leadership skills of Pappy Cantrell (he has my vote for the best boss ever). Jefferson Chene is one character that I won't be forgetting anytime soon.”
As a writer you just never know where your audience may come from. Reaching international audiences may be commonplace for the likes of Stephen King, Linwood Barclay, James Rollins and the like, but it’s rare for me. With luck, this will be the first of many.
Since it received such a great review, it’s only appropriate to share an excerpt from Why 319? In this scene, Chene and his partner, Megan have stopped to grab dinner after the first day of investigating the trio of homicides.
Megan was already at a booth in the corner by the time I got to Sharkey’s. Squeezed in beside her was a man in his fifties. He had a full head of wavy silver hair that still showed faint traces of blond and a neatly trimmed goatee. Blue eyes sparkled beneath his bushy brows. Although a couple inches shorter than Megan’s five six, he appeared physically fit and ready to take on the world. Megan was laughing at some comment he made when I sat on the opposite bench.
“She’s a bit young for you, old timer.”
“Nonsense, she’s over the age of consent. A beautiful woman is always fair game for the art of romance. Just look at her! Those luscious curves, that flirtatious smile, the wavy blonde hair…What man in his right mind wouldn’t want to flirt with her?” His voice was low and husky from too many cigarettes and too much scotch.
“Try romancing me, old man, and you’ll end up in the hospital,” Megan said with an affectionate grin.
He turned his attention to me. “You look like hell, Jeff. Is the insomnia still knocking you down?”
“Yeah, Ted. I figured a meal here and some of your scintillating conversation would put anyone to sleep.”
He wiggled a thick finger at me. “You better respect your elders, or I’ll report you to the nuns.” Then he shifted his gaze back to Megan. “And that goes for you, too. I’ve got enough dirt on the two of you to send those penguins to an early mass grave.”
“How about bringing us some food, old man?” I asked, trying my best to change the subject.
“It’s a lousy night. Cold, damp rain all day long, you need something hot, something filling.” He winked at Megan. “You trust me?”
Ted considered it for a beat, then smiled broadly, a lecherous gleam in his eyes. “Hell, that’s better than I usually get. Leave it to me.”
With that, he slid out of the booth and headed for the kitchen. In less than a minute, one of the wait staff returned with two steaming bowls of Italian wedding soup and a bottle of Riesling. Until the food was in front of me, I didn’t realize how hungry I was. Megan tasted it, then closed her eyes and sighed contentedly. “God, he can be a nuisance, but I really love that man.”
“Quickest way to get rid of Ted is to mention love.”
She shook her head. “We both know better than that.”
We ate the rest of the meal in silence. After the soup, we had mushroom caps stuffed with crab meat, then grilled scallops in lime sauce. I didn’t remember drinking the wine, but the bottle was empty as we finished eating. Megan ordered coffee and sat there watching me savor the last few ounces of wine.
“How many years have you known Ted now?”
I did the math. “Sixteen. It was in the summer.”
“Yeah, back when you were a badass street kid, living the life of crime.” A wide smile split her face and she rocked back and forth in her seat. “Until you got busted by that old man.”
“He wasn’t that old back then. And he could move pretty quickly.”
She shook her head slowly. “Good thing I’m the only one who knows this story. Guys like Kozlowski would never let you live it down.”
Megan and I attended the same elementary and high school. She was the first person to befriend me, and we’d been close ever since the third grade.
“You think Koz never committed a crime when he was a kid?”
A condescending look crossed her face. “I’m not talking about the crime. I’m talking about getting caught.”
She could be so annoying when she wanted to be. I ignored her.
“You really should go get some rest, Chene. We’ll probably be on the run most of the day. How do you want to begin?”
“We’ll start with the Warren detectives. Then I want to go back to the scene, even though it is a month old. Let’s see if we can view the room, maybe talk to the staff and get a feel for the layout of the place. Then we’ll move on to the family and friend interviews. Monday, we’ll start with the employer, coworkers, and contacts.”
Megan drained her coffee, then checked her watch. She raised her eyebrows at me, her face bearing a quizzical expression.
“You got a date?”
“Sort of. We talked about meeting in an hour.”
“And I’d like to go home, freshen up, put on something frilly, a splash or two of perfume, and go jump his bones.” She batted her lashes at me and tried to appear innocent. It didn’t work.
“You’re such a romantic. You realize that’s a lot more information than I need.”
She slid from the booth and grabbed her jacket. “I’m just trying to give you ideas, Chene.” With that, she leaned over and gave me a sisterly kiss on the cheek. “I’ll be at the squad by eight. Thank Ted for dinner.”
Just that quickly she was out the door, leaving me with a lecherous old saloonkeeper and the dregs of the wine.
Music this week comes from Bonnie Raitt.