My meeting place was clear – the Burbank Police Dept blue canopy outside Café Olla on Victyory Boulevard was the destination for me, a crime and thriller novelist, to get info.
Okay, enough with the dramatics – but, hey, that’s what I do in the Tom Stone Detective Stories with Lon Casler Bixby, isn’t it?
The Burbank police held a meet and greet to get close up with the community. Each officer was easy to chat with—down to earth and pleasant in a very tough job. I was impressed that Chief Scott LaChasse had already spent 32 years (if I remember, correctly) with the LAPD and 8 years with Burbank. Forty years plus in law enforcement.
The department also has an active police foundation that’s volunteer-led.
I’d like to find out how many departments in Southern California have occasional get-togethers. I’m sure it varies a lot. Conversations are helpful to have as we’ve portrayed Tom Stone and Jake Sharpe as quite down-to-earth. In fact, in Tom Stone: Day of the Dead, Jake plans a Halloween party with his church.
It’s important to get away from behind the computer screen and chat, get to know people, and appreciate who they are in order to get past the cliché. Police are appreciated and yet feared and sometimes loathed because they have to enforce the law. Not an easy thing to do.
Now enjoy this excerpt:
EXCERPT Tom Stone Day of the Dead Chapter One
Jake came back to the bodies and noticed a bloody stub where each man had his little finger cut off. He fought a wave of repulsion as he pictured them not just being shot, but deliberately disfigured.
“I see somebody has a sense of humor.”
The abrupt comment shook Jake from his thoughts. His partner Tom Stone arrived on the scene and pointed to a large poster hanging on the wall that read Ghoooulll! showing a Day of the Dead skeleton dressed as a soccer player scoring a goal.
“Maybe the attacker didn’t like the pun,” said Jake. “Glad to see that you finally made it. I’m on the verge of solving this and was getting ready to take all the credit.”
“I wouldn’t mind if you had it wrapped up.” Stone surveyed the area around the corpses.
“Where you been?”
“Kids. The girls were at my place last night instead of their Mom’s. Of course, Meagan forgot her phone so I had to run it over to her. College freshmen forget everything these days. Traffic seems like it’s getting worse everywhere. Burbank to Studio City used to be a quick run.”
Jake didn’t sound sympathetic. “It could have waited until after school.”
“She needed it. Had to call her mom to arrange a ride or else I’d be playing chauffer this afternoon.”
“You’re becoming soft, Stone.” Jake spoke in a low voice as he knelt alongside the dead men. “Or should I say, domesticated? Speaking of which, how’s Alisha?”
Stone changed the subject. “Maybe we should just talk about this.” He motioned to the corpses. “What happened? And to answer your question, Alisha’s fine. I just wish we could find more time to see each other. Getting more than a quick date with her has been almost impossible.”
“I’ll be glad to offer advice. Being a black man and married, I think I’m an expert on women of color.”
“No man is an expert when it comes to women, regardless of their color. But if I need your advice, I’ll ask.” Stone looked closely at the dead bodies. “Do we know who these guys are?”
“They owned the store. Father and son.”
“Any ideas who didn’t like them?”
Jake wrinkled a brow. “Haven’t gotten that far. The money’s not been touched so the assailant, or assailants, didn’t want cash. And the credit card receipts are neatly tucked away.”
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