Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tales from the Book Signing Circuit

Some authors hate book signings. I love ‘em. It’s an opportunity to talk to people about your books and, if you’re lucky, sell a bunch of them. I say luck, and there is a bit of that involved, but if you do it right chances are you’ll come out okay.

I’m not a Joe Konrath, who will take a notion to visit something like 500 stores in a two or three-month period. But I do a decent number of signings each year at bookstores and fairs and libraries and conferences. There’s always something interesting going on.

If you’ve encountered me before on the listserves, you probably know my wife and I work as a team at signings. She stands at the store entrance, hands out promo folders to people who admit they read mysteries, and tries to direct them over to the table while I stand ready with a smile and a book or so. She gets most of the questions about where’s the restroom, but a few will pause to ask me things like where’s the newsstand? That happened at my last signing, and I said I had no idea. A store employee straightened me out. It was right across from my table. So much for my powers of observation.

One of our most interesting experiences taught us not to pass up prospects because they don’t look like buyers. It happened back in 2004 at a Borders in Orange County, CA. My signing table sat right beside the entrance, and Sarah stood in front of a large table of books facing the doorway. We had already seen a bunch of kooky looking characters in the area, but the one who came in about halfway through the signing looked like a real oddball.

A tall man with scraggly gray hair and beard, he wore boots and what appeared to be a blue denim kilt. His T-shirt read “I only came in for the beer.” He carried some sort of small case that we figured might have held all his worldly belongings. Sarah didn’t bother to ask if he read mysteries, thinking he was probably a homeless character coming in out of the hot sun.

A few minutes later she noticed him wandering about the table behind her. She approached him with a folder and he appeared interested. She also noticed he was clean and well-spoken. He said he really didn’t need to be buying books. He had three bedrooms, and all of them were full of books. But he came over to the table and had me sign one of mine for him. The moral of the story is don't judge a book by its cover.

We both invariably get someone who will say, “I don’t need to read mysteries. I’m a mystery myself.”

And then there was the woman at Books-a-Million in Clarksville, TN who replied to the query about reading mysteries, “Not today. It’s raining.” Sarah wanted to say she didn’t expect her to walk out of the store reading the book, but being a good sales rep she’s always on her good behavior.

At a signing in Madison, the Nashville suburb where I live, a young Korean woman with obvious Oriental features came up to me with a big smile and blurted out, “Daddy!” People nearby looked around and wondered, I’m sure. But I knew what was happening. I have a Korean daughter-in-law who calls me that, and her friends had taken up the habit.

When Sarah tells them the book is by Chester Campbell, somebody will always come back with “I’ve never heard of him.” She’ll point across at me and say, “Well, he’s right over there.”

Some will turn their heads and hurry past. Others will wander off down the aisle reading the brochure. Occasionally, they will come back up front and buy a book. But the ones I like best are those who walk right up, take a book and say, “I want one.”

Even better are those people at places like the Kentucky book Fair, where I had four books on the table, who will say I'll take one of each.

At the start of this I mentioned the "luck" factor. I try to set up signings at times when the store is most likely to be busy. But you don't always get it right. If it turns out to be one of those days when people just aren't out shopping for books, make the best of it. Keep smiling and chatting. Store personnel like upbeat authors and will help you all they can.
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Communist view of the Korean Air War

With Memorial Day coming up, I thought a little story from the past about American airmen supposedly shot down that was pure fiction might provide an amusing sidebar. I found it while looking through letters I wrote home from Korea in the spring of 1953 shortly before I was shipped back to the States.

I worked in the Estimates Division of the Directorate of Intelligence at Fifth Air Force Headquarters in Seoul. We were housed in the old Seoul University Medical School buildings. My job was to keep up with enemy air activity from debriefings of aircrews as they returned from missions. At that point, we ruled the skies over North Korea.

My section was involved in putting out the DINTSUM, or Daily Intelligence Summary, that went all around the Far East Air Forces command. I sent home a couple of pages from No. 307 on 9 Mar 53 which had been declassified. It was a translation from Radio Pyongyang in Korean dated Sunday, 1 March 53.

“Falcons of an Air Force unit commanded by Comrade Choe Sang Tae scored brilliant gains in recent battles with the American imperialists air bandits in which they shot down two F-84 jets and one F-86 Sabrejet.

“Last Sunday morning, (22 February) a formation under the command of Choe Sang Tae was flying the skies of the Fatherland southeastward on a (? ? ? ?) mission. Watching the skies with high alertness, our young Falcons continued on their course. When they reached the skies of an undisclosed area, Commander Choe Sang Tae, flying with utmost caution sighted a formation of enemy F-84 jets flying at an altitude of 1,800 meters above an undisclosed place. He immediately passed a combat order among the aircraft under his command.

“The hateful enemy planes, fleeing upon their discovery by our heroic Falcons, were caught from the rear by Comrade Choe Sang Tae, who was skillfully maneuvering his plane in attack. Comrade Choe Sang Tae quickly intercepted an enemy plane in his sights. Drawing clear red lines in the sky, the mighty fire penetrated the body of the enemy. In a moment, the enemy, now a fire ball enveloped in black smoke, crashed to the valley below. Having lost their commander, the other enemy planes, afraid of our brave Falcons, took to their heels. After ascertaining that there were no enemy aircraft around, all the planes in the formation commanded by Choe Sang Tae returned to the base safely.

“Then, at an undisclosed time on the fifteenth (of February), a formation led by Comrade Kim Chi Pom of the same unit on a pursuit mission encountered an American Air Force F-84 jet formation. As soon as Formation Leader Kim Chi Pom gave the order to prepare for combat, planes in the formation thrashed into the enemy formation, while tightly guarding the commander’s plane. The enemy planes arrogantly counter-attacked but their fire hit only empty air. Trained in outstanding flight technique and turning with iron determination, Flier So Chol Ha swiftly raised the nose of his plane and, turning to the left and right to elude the enemy fire, followed the rear of the enemy and poured revengeful fire into it. In a moment, the enemy crashed and buried itself in a hill behind an undisclosed position.

“The same day brave Falcons led by Cho Song Chol sauntering in the sky over an undisclosed place saw an enemy formation of F-86 Sabrejets about to bomb peaceful inhabited areas. The Cho Song Chol formation at this crucial moment skillfully shot down one enemy plane, scoring another bright victory.”

My boss, Maj. Harry Kelliher, provided the following explanatory note at the end of the broadcast translation (I have added parenthetical explanations of the military acronyms):

“Here’s what actually happened: On 22 February, UN air made no claims against the enemy and suffered no losses, although two friendlies sustained minor damage from SA (small arms) and AW (automatic weapons) over the MLR (main line of resistance, or the battle front). If the date is in error, however, F-86s on 21 February shot down three MIGs (Russian-built fighters) and probably destroyed another. On 15 February, F-86s destroyed three MIGs, probably destroyed three others and damaged six more, most of the action taking place in the vicinity of Sinuiju and the Suiho hydroelectric plant (both on the Yalu River border with China). One F-86 incurred minor damage from flying debris while firing on a MIG, one F-84 received minor damage from SA in the YC area and one AD (Marine Skyraider fighter-bomber) was slightly damaged by AW in the CT grid square.” (The YC and CT grid squares refer to 100,000 meter squares on the aerial charts we used.)

Major Kelliher added another explanatory box saying, “The story, of course, is completely unrelated to facts, and despite the flowery language the material is considered good ‘copy’ in the Oriental radio trade. The ‘hammy’ dramatics of the script are typical of all Oritental narrative and the complete lack of coordinates are normal in the reporting techniques of Red journalism.”

Following enemy air activity over a period of months made it obvious the war was being used as a training ground not just for North Korean pilots but for Chinese and Russians as well. When a new class started out, they stayed close to the Chinese border, where they could dart for safety when the F-86s got too aggressive. As they gained more confidence, they ventured farther to the south. Then the situation would reverse with introduction of a new group of trainees.

Hardly seems that was nearly 60 years ago. And though we did quite well in the air war, a lot of good guys from both air and ground units didn’t make it back. We’ll be remembering them this weekend.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

City Paper review of The Surest Poison

Here's a review of The Surest Poison from The Nashville City Paper by Staff Writer Ron Wynn:

Nashville author Chester D. Campbell’s newest creation is private investigator Sid Chance, both a former police chief and a National Parks ranger. In The Surest Poison, Chance’s love for the outdoors and his knowledge of procedure prove advantageous when he decides to investigate a chemical dump located in a small rural community just west of Nashville.

Surely this is merely another cause of official neglect, and Chance figures it won’t be hard to track down either the person or corporation responsible for this environmental blight.

But Chance discovers that there’s much more to this case than just some after hours dumping. He’s soon right in the middle of what looks like a string of unrelated murders.

Besides having no suspects, Chance is being threatened and followed. He enlists an ally in another former cop, Jaz LeMieux, and her involvement immediately makes her a target. The duo must pool their resources, experience and contacts and trace this all the way back to the case that ended Chance’s previous career as a police chief.

In addition to including plenty of places and characters that savvy Music City readers will recognize and enjoy, Campbell’s crafted a mystery that seems easy to solve, but instead has plenty of twists and turns. Chance and LeMieux are smart investigators, but they find themselves facing a more organized and tough conspiracy than they thought.

He also uses the story to inform readers about some of the dangers regarding landfills and waste sites, a perennial environmental problem that plagues many small towns and poor communities across the nation.

Campbell has already won plenty of praise among mystery fans for his series about senior detectives Greg and Jill McKenzie. His newest character Sid Chance seems destined to generate the same kind of excitement and anticipation for future adventures thanks to the quality of The Surest Poison.

End of review

You can order the book from your local bookstore, or

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Heavy-handed chefs pile it on

I often use restaurants in my books as a convenient location for characters to interact and discuss matters of importance to the plot. I mention what they order but don’t usually go into detail about the food or their reaction to it. Considering one of my pet peeves these days, I may change that in the next book.

I could have Jill McKenzie tell her husband, Greg, “They put entirely too much food on that plate. You don’t need more than half of it.”

She gets on his case now and then about overeating. He has a weight problem.

I don’t have a weight problem because I’m not a big eater. My wife and I dine out once or twice a week, and one point on which we agree is that restaurants overload our plates with food. Maybe it’s an age thing. I don’t know. A lot of our friends express the same feeling. It isn’t unusual for us to get a take-out box and haul half of our meal back home. It gives us a handy lunch the next day, but a warmed-over plate is rarely up to par with its original savoriness (is that a word?).

You can get a modest meal at a fast food place, but the modesty is only in the portions, not the ingredients like fats and sodium. Of course, you can get stuff with little nutritional value in regular restaurants, but you usually have more choices that will offer acceptable healthy food value.

I think the nicer eating establishments would attract more business, especially from those of us eligible for an AARP card, if they put a smaller meal option on the menu with a slightly reduced price. They would also save a lot of waste from plates that come back with meals only half eaten. If you’re on a trip, you don’t want to carry half your dinner back to the motel.

Considering my Scottish heritage, I prefer the thrifty lifestyle. Which means we use coupons whenever possible. Red Lobster, Olive Garden, O’Charley’s, and Logan’s Roadhouse are good about supplying us with a few dollars off now and then. It makes us feel a little better when we face a platter piled with enough food to satisfy a one-hump camel.

Broccoli is a flagrant example of the pile-it-on mentality. They love to fill one side of your plate with the pretty green bloomlets. George Herbert Walker Bush hated the stuff. My wife won’t touch it, either. It’s rich in vitamin K, a no-no for folks who take warfarin. I sometimes manage to eat close to half of it.

If it’s something easy to divvy up, like crab cakes, we’ll get one order and split it. But some restaurants charge extra for sharing. Like it costs them several bucks more to wash an extra plate and fork. Heck, they’ll give you utensils and a napkin if you only order coffee.

Okay, enough ranting. I’ll get ‘em when I write my next book. I won’t name names, though. The only thing worse than an overloaded dinner plate is a hungry lawyer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Handicaps are what we make of them

I'm a pretty upbeat guy, but once in a while I fall into the trap of bemoaning some problem that just doesn't seem fair. Like this chronic cough I've had since the early seventies. It got gradually worse over the years and now bugs me constantly. Various doctors have suggested remedies that don't work. Along with a nasty sinus drainage that makes me clear my throat constantly (and no doubt is part instigator of the cough), it has ruined my vocal chords to the point I speak with a gravelly voice, when I can speak at all.

Then I look around at some of the folks I encounter and realize I've got nothing to complain about. There's a couple at church named Nathan and Shirley who are always smiling and laughing and full of friendly banter. He is blind in one eye and has quite limited vision in the other. She has been blind almost from birth.

Does it bother them? You'd never guess from being around them. Nathan works for the Red Cross blood program, travels around speaking at schools and to other groups. Somebody else drives him, of course. He uses a white cane with a red stripe, but he can see well enough to get around without running into anything. He can read by holding the paper just in front of his eye, or by using a magnifying glass.

His wife, Shirley, has worked in a state office for years. Their home is a marvel of gadgetry. They have all kinds of devices that talk to them. She knows exactly where everything is and can move about with no help. When she sang in the choir, she printed out the songs in braille and read as she sang.

Whenever you see her sitting around waiting for something, she usually has some project in her lap and is knitting away.

Except for needing help with transportation, they are about as independent as anybody I know. I've never heard them complain about their handicap. Occasionally they joke about it. Makes me feel like a first class wimp to even mention my cough.

A young boy of our acquaintance, he's probably eight or nine now, was born with one side of his mouth twisted up and the inside not fully developed. His mother home schooled him to avoid the trauma of what other kids might say. He has always been a smiling, happy kid. Now that he's old enough, he is undergoing a series of operations to correct the problem. He's looking a lot better. Despite what he's been through, he still smiles like a trouper.

When we write mystery novels, we give our characters a background of problems to make them more believable and worthy of sympathy. Sometimes it involves physical handicaps, at other times it's mental or emotional. We often have them brood over their troubles or afflictions, but it's best to give them a little humility and let them realize as bad as things are, lots of people have it worse.

Characters who show the spunk to rise above their difficulties are the ones we like the best. Right?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Why write a mystery?

Why did you decide to write a mystery, people are always asking us who do. My stock reply is that it’s an opportunity to do what frequently does not happen in the real world around us. Namely, see that the evil suffer their deserved punishments and have our little corner of the universe restored to equilibrium, for however brief a time.

But maybe it goes deeper than that. Perhaps it’s an urge to trot a few of our alter egos out on the stage and indulge in a little morality playwriting. Our protagonist is the Everyman character, and other players portray a variety of evils and a few laudable traits. Some of the less-than-stellar quality figures and a good one or two will be dismissed along the way as not germane to the plot (i.e., red herrings). In the end, the readers will understand the moral that good overcomes evil.

I chose to write private eye mysteries. Many critics see the modern PI as a linear descendant of the venerable cowboy who helped tame the West. He’s committed to seeking truth and justice and devotes his energies to protecting those unable to protect themselves. Raymond Chandler, creator of Phillip Marlowe and one of the genre’s most famous authors, wrote this memorable line in an essay on “The Simple Art of Murder:”

“But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.”

After noting several well known fictional private eyes, Robert J. Randisi, who founded the Private Eye Writers of America, said, “All of these characters operate under the same general moral code, which is of course a large part--if not the largest part--of the P.I. ambience. The code says, ‘The guilty must be punished, and I'm.gonna .punish them!’”

Others trace the American private eye’s heritage all the way back to Lancelot and King Arthur. Wherever he came from, he’s a complex character who we feel obliged to root for. He’s the sort of guy I like to read about and, conversely, the one I enjoy writing about.

Another reason we write mysteries is the challenge of creating a believable scenario with enough clues and twists and turns to keep readers interested and keep them guessing. Basically, besides the detective, there are only three other characters necessary in a mystery–a murderer, another suspect, and a victim. In such a case, however, it would be advisable to keep the victim alive until well into the story. Otherwise you’d have to indulge in quite a bit of the dreaded flashback.

I’ve seen this idea pursued in a short story, but never a novel. Maybe it’s a challenge to consider. Have you read any mysteries with a minimal cast of characters? How did the author keep you guessing for 70,000 words or more?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Headed for the war zone in Korea, 1952

Today is Nostalgia Thursday. I’ve been looking through a packet of old Air Mail letters (remember air mail—the envelopes have alternating red and blue stripes around the edges?) that I sent home to my fiancee from Korea. The first one was written “about 300 nautical miles at sea” on Friday, May 9, 1952. We had shipped out of San Francisco the previous day, which would have been a Thursday 57 years ago.

The letter starts out:

“I’m writing from the forward sun deck of the USNS Gen. W. F. Hase, located according to my calculations as above. The sun is beaming down brightly from about 15 degrees to the left of directly overhead. Sitting here it feels very warm, mainly because I’m sheltered by a bulkhead that comes up about even with the top of my head. The wind is flapping the paper around in my typewriter. It’s pretty cold if you stand where you catch the full force of it. I’ve got my blue pants and jacket on, plus my topcoat. I’m writing from a half-reclining position in a deck chair.

“This is about the bluest water I ever hope to see. Hm, the PA system just clanged five bells, which means 1030. The ship is rocking gently, the water isn’t very rough, not so bad as it was last night anyway. I’m looking toward the aft (rear) of the ship, and there are a few little shaggy cumulus clouds around the horizon. I can’t see directly behind because of a stack of life rafts and part of the superstructure, but a little while ago there were two albatross (or albatrosses) flying around back there. We lost the sea gulls last night. They don’t fly out too far. The albatross, if you remember, is what not to shoot unless you want to end up like the Ancient Mariner. Personally, I got nothing to shoot one with anyway.”

I wasn’t issued a gun until I got to Korea. A bulky Army .45. I carried the thing for a year and never fired it. Stationed at 5th Air Force Headquarters in Seoul, I couldn’t find much to shoot at. The rats weren’t all that big. I’m copying the letter as written, without any editing. I wasn’t concerned with writing style at the time. I had been working for a newspaper the past four years, and we had a copy desk to take care of editing chores. My letter continued:

“To get back to the beginning, we departed from Camp Stoneman yesterday about 8 a.m. I didn’t know for sure whether we were going anywhere or not at first, for we got on the bus and it promptly broke down. So they loaded us onto another one and took us a couple of miles over to what anybody else but the Army would call a ferry—they call it a “harbor boat.” There were two “harbor boats,” the Yerba Buena and San Leandro. The Air Force officers went on the former, with the latter all Army. Boy, I thought my arms would break off before I got to set down my bags. I figured I’d die before carrying them onto the ship, but luckily they had stewards to do that for us. Anyhow, the harbor boat took us down the river to San Francisco Bay, past Alcatraz where I took a picture, on over to Fort Mason, which is the Army docks at Frisco. There we found the Hase, the Red Cross with coffee and cookies and an Army band to serenade us as we left. Some of the other guys who’ve been over before say this isn’t a very big ship, but it’s the biggest I’ve been on anyway. I don’t know how many are on it, though I’ve heard around 3000. They say it carried as many as 6000 during the war [World War II], but I imagine they were pretty crowded. The officers have cabins, mine with 9 guys in it, some have 12. They are triple-deck bunks, and I got a lower. I slept very well last night. The troops are in compartments down below decks, I haven’t seen what sort of place it is. Each cabin has a wash basin, and there is an adjoining toilet and shower for each two cabins.”

The letter, typed on paper about the size of a trade paperback, is 16 pages long. It is written in continuous form with break headings to show the date, time, and approximate location for each entry. The last one shows “Thursday, May 22, 1952, 6:30 p.m., Approx. 200 miles from Japan.” I wrote it using the small, thin, metal-cased portable typewriter I wagged around the Far East. Unfortunately, I got rid of it a few years later. It would have been a nice antique now. As is the camera I took along, a boxy twin-lens Ciro-flex, which I still have.

The rest of this first entry in the letter didn’t include much excitement. Stuff like one of my cabin mates breaking out a bottle of Four Roses, which he proclaimed was “seasick medicine.” Liquor was forbidden aboard ship, of course. As was a lot of other things that went on. At one point during the day, the ship turned and the emergency lifeboat crew lowered Number 2 Boat. A short time later they returned. We figured somebody saw something and thought it might be a man overboard, but they brought nothing back.

In the letter I mentioned what we had to eat for lunch (baked ham, sweet potatoes, corn, a beet and onion salad, tomato soup, coffee and cake) and dinner’s highlight (braised tenderloin tips and some great banana cream pie). The USNS Hase was a civilian ship, not Navy. The officers ate in the same dining room as the crew, and they prepared sumptuous meals. I don’t remember how much I gained during the 15-day trip, but without much activity except walking around the deck, I’m sure I put on several pounds.

That first letter was postmarked May 24, 1952. I put two six-cent air mail stamps on it when I mailed it on arriving in Japan. I wrote “Free Air Mail” where the stamp would have been on the other letters, which came from Korea. I’ll do some more reminiscing about the Korean War on day soon. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Book winners on The Great Blog Tour

Cue the are the results for both drawings in my Blog Book Tour for The Surest Poison:

The Grand Prize(signed copies of The Surest Poison and four Greg McKenzie Mysteries) - Charlotte Phillips, who stacked the odds with visits to 8 of the 15 blogs.

Signed copy of The Surest Poison - Jean Henry Mead

Signed copy of The Surest Poison - Mark Troy

Signed copy of The Surest Poison - Maryann Miller

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to the 179 people who commented on my posts. It was a fun tour. If tou haven't bought your copy of the book yet, check out an independent store, or go to or

Friday, May 1, 2009

An interview with Jaz LeMieux

I've just finished my Blog Book Tour for The Surest Poison. I wrote posts that appeared on 15 different blogs from April 15 through May 1. It was fun but a lot of work. I thought I would repeat a few of them here for those who might have missed the tour. This one is an interview I did with PI Sid Chance's female associate, Jasmine (Jaz) LeMieux. It first appeared at The Stiletto Gang blog.

Chester: Would you state your full name and occupation?
Jaz: What is this? Are you trying to play detective?

Chester: Just answer the question, please.
Jaz: Oh, all right. I’ll play along. My name is Jasmine LeMieux, a.k.a. Jaz, and I’m chairman of the board for Welcome Home Stores, a chain of truck stops headquartered in Nashville. I’m also a newly-minted–licensed, that is–private investigator.

Chester: And a very attractive one at age forty-five.
Jaz: Thanks, I guess, but you didn’t have to go into that age business. A lady needs to keep a few secrets.

Chester: Sorry about that. I hear you’re working with another local PI named Sid Chance. Is that correct?
Jaz: I wouldn’t call it working, exactly. It’s more like a lark to me. It’s a chance to play cop.

Chester: Weren’t you a Metro Nashville policewoman at one point?
Jaz: Until my mother died and my father was nearly killed in a car wreck. I quit the force to help nurse him back to health.

Chester: Your career choices up to that point caused a bit of consternation with your family, didn’t they?
Jaz: You’re being kind. Actually, I was kicked out of the family. My mother was a snobbish Southern Belle. She went ballistic when I dropped out of college and joined the Air Force. I was young at the time and quite determined. I had been a star point guard on the basketball team. When they brought in a new coach who berated my style of play, I got mad and quit. In the Air Force I was assigned to the Security Police under a sergeant who was a former Golden Gloves champion. He worked out regularly with me in the gym. When I left the service, he offered to train me as a boxer. I went professional, and my mother erased my name from the family ledger.

Chester: Didn’t you become a lightweight champion?
Jaz: I did, but it didn’t pay enough to live on. That’s why I became a cop.

Chester: From the looks of this French Colonial mansion you live in, I’d say you weren’t hurting for money now.
Jaz: I’m doing okay. My dad came to Nashville as an ambitious young French Canadian. He built Welcome Home Stores into a lucrative business. When he regained his health after the accident, he asked me to come to work for him. I went back to school and got a computer science degree, plus an MBA. He left me controlling interest in the business when he died.

Chester: How do you find time to play cop, as you call it?
Jaz: I keep close tabs on the company, but I’m not involved in day-to-day operations.

Chester: Weren’t you responsible for getting Sid Chance in the PI business?
Jaz: I was looking for somebody to run an investigation for Welcome Home Stores, and a mutual friend told me about Sid. He had a wealth of experience in law enforcement but got shafted by small town politics. He’d run off to a cabin the woods and was playing hermit. I looked him up, talked him into coming back to take my company’s case. He did such a great job with it that I offered to help him get into the PI business.

Chester: Did you have anything to do with Sid’s taking on this toxic chemical pollution case?
Jaz: I recommended him to a lawyer who does work for my company.

Chester: It sounds like you think pretty highly of Mr. Sidney Chance. True?
Jaz: If you mean do I think he’s one very sharp detective, quite true. He’s also one gorgeous hunk of a man, a little rough around the edges, but honest as the day is long. He’s totally devoid of pretense, someone you can always count on to come through for you.

Chester: In addition to your helping with Sid’s case, he got pretty heavily involved with your problem at home, didn’t he?
Jaz: Yes, there’s a dear couple who lives with me. They’ve been family employees since I was a kid. When their grandson got into trouble, Sid came to the rescue.

Chester: Do I detect something a little more than a purely business relationship?
Jaz: We’ve become very close friends. And this part is off the record. I wouldn’t object to pushing the relationship to a new level, but I think Sid needs to find some inner peace before he’s ready to break out of his shell. He needs to come to terms with his past.

Chester: Didn’t you introduce him to some good law enforcement contacts?
Jaz: You refer to the Miss Demeanor and Five Felons Poker Club. We meet irregularly with a Metro homicide detective, a patrol sergeant, a retired newspaper police reporter, and a former Criminal Court Judge. They’re great friends, and Sid has found they can be quite helpful.

Chester: And what’s in store for Jasmine LeMieux as a private investigator?
Jaz: That depends on Sid. I’m only interested in working cases where he needs my help. I have resources he doesn’t possess, including computer savvy to dig out information not easily accessible.

Chester: I’m sure he’ll find ample opportunity to use your services in the future. Thanks for talking with us, Miss LeMieux. I wish you much success.
Jaz: Hey, speaking of which, you won’t mind if I succeed in selling a few books, would you?

Speaking of which, you can find the book at and Barnes and