Friday, March 1, 2013

Working Crimes with Detective Jackson

by L.J. Sellers, author or provocative mysteries & thrillers

Rules of Crime, Detective Jackson's 7th novel, released this week. For those who haven't met him yet, here's a post in Jackson's perspective. (Originally published by Dru's Book Musings.)

Actor Hugh Jackman

"Detective Jackson, Eugene Police Department." That's how I introduce myself to witnesses and suspects, so that's why this series is called the Detective Jackson series and not the Wade Jackson series. No one calls me Wade, except my girlfriend Kera, and she doesn't do it often.

I wake up most mornings at 5:30, even on weekends if I’m working the first few days of a homicide, which often go round-the-clock. Most days, I’m home long enough to have breakfast with my daughter, Katie, then drive her to high school. I was a single parent even before I divorced, because my ex-wife is an alcoholic and not someone Katie can depend on.

And I'm a workaholic, so my daughter is rather self-sufficient. That's my greatest struggle every day: How do I be a good father to the person I love most in the world and keep my hometown of Eugene, Oregon safe from violent offenders?

At the department, I check my emails and phone messages like any other public servant, but that after that my day gets interesting. My boss, a big gruff woman named Sergeant Lammers, often assigns me a new case or wants an update on the case I'm working. Those are the easy ones. More typically, I get called out to homicide scenes during a date with Kera or on a weekend spent building a trike with my daughter. Murder has no boundaries or patterns, but I seem to catch the toughest cases at the strangest times.

Whenever I get the call, I drop what I'm doing and get out to the crime scene. I like to arrive before the medical examiner does so I have chance to look at the body and the scene up close. On television, the detective often takes a long look around and announces something like "The intruder came in through the window, grabbed the trophy from the fireplace and conked the victim on the head."

It's never like that for me. I get cases where a young girl is found dead in a dumpster without a mark on her—and no leads or witnesses. Or a whole family has been assaulted and killed and the evidence is too messy to make sense of. In my last homicide case, a young veteran was found dead in his car with his throat slit.

Solving murders is often tedious work. Hours spent looking at phone or bank records and days spent tracking down family members, boyfriends, and co-workers to interview. The case often breaks because the killer, in desperation, commits another crime or makes a fatal mistake.

Actor Viggo Mortensen
Or often, it's one of my task force members who sees the connections that lead us to the guilty party. Or a crime lab technician who discovers a key piece of forensic evidence. We're all part of a team, and we've worked together for years. My detective partners are also my best friends, because they're the only people I really trust. Chasing criminals will do that to you.

The case I'm working now (Rules of Crime) is personal—my ex-wife has been kidnapped, and the FBI is leading the task force. My partner, Detective Lara Evans, is investigating the assault of a young woman who was beaten and dumped at the hospital. Any minute now, we'll compare notes and discover how these crimes are connected. I hope you'll be there for the revelation.

And what do you think? Should Hugh Jackman play my part when I make it to the big screen? Or maybe Viggo Mortensen?


  1. What a fun post, L.J.!

    I've got to go with Jackman.

  2. I love both Hugh and Viggo, and either would do a great job, but it sure would be nice to have an American play an American for once. Don't we have any leading man types?

    How about Nathan Fillion once Castle has run its course. It seems to be preparing to jump the shark.

  3. I just love Detective Jackson! And Lara Evans! As to who would play them... I'll have to give that some thought!

    You've had some great minor characters who could use more air-time, too, like Sophie Speranza and Jasmine Parker in Liars, Cheaters and Thieves, and now this new intriguing character, FBI Agent Carl/Carla River.

    And I can't wait for your next stand-alone thriller! Can you give us a few hints about that?

  4. Jodi, it features Agent Dallas, the young FBI I introduced in Jackson #8. She goes undercover again in an isolated community. I can't say more than that because I feel very proprietary about theme.

  5. Intriguing! I can't wait! Refresh me on the title of Jackson #8?

  6. (Why am I now getting a separate window for comments?)

    A great post - a great intro to the character. Tough choice - Viggo or Hugh. But who cares as long as actually DOES make it to the big screen?

    Call me a traditionalist, but I'd like to see Castle and Beckett get married, have a kid - and continue to solve crimes. I think there's a lot of material left, without sharks. (Just discovered the show via YouTube.)

    I got a writerly quote that claims "all writers are mystery writers." I think that's very true. Even romance, done right, is a mystery.

    Enough Saturday night rambling. Oh, wait - I actually had a question, L.J.: Detective Jackson is a homicide detective, but his current case involves a kidnapping and an assault - investigated by his detective partner. Does this mean that although Jackson is primarily a homicide detective he (and presumably other detectives on the force) are assignment-flexible - they can be assigned to other types of cases? This is a semi-practical question. Do police forces have a strict division of labor, or is it more a case of go-with-strengths and what you're familiar with? Thanks!!


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