Forty years. It took that long to finally tell the story. Though I was only a raw recruit at the time, the death of a young policeman was just as much an impact on my life as those who knew him well. A modern fictionalized version fills the pages of SIDE SLIP, the third in the SAM DELAND CRIME NOVEL series. It begins where SINK RATE and ROPE BREAK end with Sam recovering from his wounds in Detective Christie O’Shea’s capable hands. But both Sam and Christie have much more to worry about than cleaning up the rescue of Sam’s son from Florida bad guys. The perfect Christmas addition to your crime fiction collection before GROUND EFFECT, the next novel is released.
From SIDE SLIP:
“No thanks,” Christie couldn’t stomach another cup. She was running on reserve now and numb. The uniformed sergeant backed off and left her alone with her laptop in the manager’s office. The place smelled of sweat and cold coffee. Sometime during the night a new twenty five cup coffee urn had been taken from the sales floor and opened up, along with cans of ground coffee and creamer to supply the small army of cops working the homicide. Every deputy that could walk under their own power had shown up. The murder of a deputy was about the biggest thing that could possibly happen and everyone wanted to help.
She was assigned the case but had sergeants, lieutenants, captains and the sheriff himself looking over her shoulder. She spent most of the first hour talking to the store manager and one of his assistant managers who had earlier been in this same office and had not seen or heard anything. The manager found Doug when the tire foreman didn’t check out. The open rear overhead door spooked the manager who stuck his head out and saw the body lying in front of the running green and white.
The deputy in the next zone heard a part of Doug’s brief broadcast earlier and had been searching for him when Doug didn’t answer dispatch. He knew Doug from the academy and had been his defensive driving instructor. He was just on the other side of I-75 when the call came. The first on the scene, he launched a desperate attempt at CPR but it was of no use. Doug was gone, along with his pistol and the shooter or shooters.
He got a perimeter started with the responding units then the street sergeants and the lieutenant started the notifications and the search for the bad guys. By the time Christie got there, she had to have cars moved so she could get into the parking lot. The store surveillance was pretty good except for the back lot. Stored on digital equipment, the originals had been duped and they worked off the copies. The outside camera trained on the propane tank only showed a brief flash of clothing of what they now knew was the tire shop foreman leaping over a fence and bolting into the heavy bushes on the other side. The only other thing visible was just a piece of the roof of a dark colored car moving past and out toward the front of the building. No Doug, no shooter.
Christie had almost a full package on the foreman. Driver’s license photo, rap sheet for a dope pinch and his arrest photo. The foreman’s car was still parked in the store lot and the crime scene crew was getting ready to crack it as soon as the warrant was signed. Four unmarked surveillance units had his last known address covered and the detective captain had them hold off until daylight and a signed warrant arrived to hit the place.
Doug had been carefully processed and was on his way to the medical examiner. That prompted a panic before he had been moved when someone let Christie know that Doug was engaged to a girl that worked in the lab there. They found Janey at Doug’s. The sheriff went in person with the chaplain and made the notification. Christie didn’t want to know how it went.
Cars were running all over the county chasing leads. The early news on TV and radio had run the story, what parts of it were released, along with the picture of the tire foreman. Every guy who even remotely fit the description and a few who weren’t even close found their early morning rudely interrupted by screaming cops and handcuffs. But so far, no results.
Looking away from the screen, Christie tried to focus out into the store to clear her vision. Then she was moving up and out of the office toward the bathrooms. She needed to pee and wash her face. The blank look on her face didn’t deter them and she ignored the several questions fired at her by deputies as she passed and went into the empty bathroom. It all welled up and hit her hard then. She slid down against the wall next to the sinks and just cried.