Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Opening chapter of Pat Canella

Here are the opening pages to my 13 chapter book "Hunted Down" which traces Pat Canella's rise in he detective ranks and her fight to win a district back from a gang. There is a link in case you wish to get the whole book and read ahead, this story is full of excitement, but please remember attitudes and behaviour are of the 1940's, so ladies you may be offended by the chauvinistic men.

Pat Canella (The Dockland Murders) 
            I stood there, the gun still warm in my hand, barrel smoking from the gun battle.
            “Why did he do that, Sarge?  I tried my best to talk him out of it.”
            “Living with the guilt finally got to him, Patti.”
            “Couldn’t he have talked it over?”
            “No, the only thing worse than being a dirty cop, is being the son of a loose cannon, and none came looser than Bill Chart, Patti.”
            I looked around.  There lay the body of Bill's son, my ex-partner, Adrian Chart.
            “I had no choice, he pulled first, Sarge," I said through my tears.
            “I know, Patti, we all saw it.  Nobody blames you.  It was his way out.”
            The last thing I remember was the Sarge saying in a soft tone, "Take a week off Patti, something like this will haunt you. I know. I have been there myself.”  Dazed, I stood there, trying to remember how it had all started . . .
                                                   * * *
            I'd wanted an office and had pestered the sergeant for months for a place to work.  For my sins, I'd got this dark and dingy office with paperwork piled high of old, unsolved murders.  The air was dank with the musty smell of old paper, a place where light had long gone missing.  This was Middleton Detective Agency. Even hardened drunks avoided this run down area of town.  Sitting at the back of the office, I looked in desolation at the pile of old cases, Sgt. Pug Phillips had recently dumped on me.  
            “Why don’t I get anything good?”  I muttered, knowing nobody was listening, or if they were, they didn't care.  Cold coffee was still on the table from last night, the ring marks showing how I had spent the long, hot and humid days at Middleton going over old and long-forgotten cases which had been given to me just so I'd have something to do
            “A young girl, trying to do a man's job" is what the crew said on that first day months ago.”
 Here I was, stuck at the back end of nowhere, in a dark office so lonely I had to get my own coffee and doughnuts. The guys never took any notice.  I often wondered if they would notice if I just didn't turn up. “
            I'd never been a girlie girl.  I was always looking for a mystery to solve rather than play with dolls or admire film stars.  And this was my reward!  All I have is deadbeat job in a run-down office, in the worst part of town.
            Sometimes, I wish I'd just got married like the others; had a nice cozy life and a good husband, I muttered to myself – then, ‘Hell, no! Patti. Where did that come from, gal?”  The drudgery and boredom were getting to me.  All these cases!  Some go back to the '20's.  Most of the witnesses are dead now, I mumbled under my breath. Trust me to get cases that are not only cold, but deader than the dodo.
            Sitting there alone, I was surprised to hear a knock on the door.  I was more surprised that anyone knew where I was.  Standing in the doorway was an old man, leaning on his cane.
“Please come in and sit down.”
            “Thank you, young lady," he said. "I have information on an old case, you might like to re-open.”
            “Why not ask at the desk?”
            “They closed the book years ago, and don’t want old wounds re-opened, that is why.”
            “Which case is this?”
            “It's one from the '20s. It was the Morrissey & Jeffries case.”
            “What can you tell me about it and why should we re-open it now?”
            “I am telling you about it because my spirit is crossing and I want to clear this case up.  You get it re-opened, and I will let you know what I know.”
            “How can I trust you?”
            “Just tell Pug, that Dennis spoke to you.”
            The man got up and walked back down the corridor. When I got up to see which way he went, all I saw was a whiff of smoke.  Looking through the case files I was totally disheartened to see how many had just been left open, with no closure for the families.  Back then, the force could not spare the manpower to chase up leads, what with all the gangsters and bootlegging.
            With Mayor Johnson going for a second term, he needed to show power to the mobs, so all the force was put on alert and other crimes became second rate.
            “So sad," I thought.  "These poor people never had closure.”

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