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William R. Potter

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Books by William R. Potter
Prominent Couple Slain-A Jack Staal Mystery
By William R. Potter
Saturday, November 15, 2008

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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Prominent Couple Slain is a hard-boiled police procedural. Detective Jack Staal is disillusioned about his career after he takes a nosedive from big city homicide investigator to small town detective. Desperate to prove himself, he ignores protocol to work a case that is not his to solve. The story is included in the short story collection Lighting the Dark Side.

Aaron Wilson of The Soulless Machine Review said “Prominent Couple Slain” is a hard-boiled, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, styled mystery that doesn’t pull any punches. Perhaps, I over exaggerate. What the story does is provide a fast passed who-done-it with old-school line-of-evidence detective work that kept me from paying attention to my bus stop. I missed it by two, thanks a lot.

Jack Staal and Lesley Degarmo are on the scene of a double homicide, a married couple of substantial wealth haven been shot. The gun is at the scene and in one of the victim’s hands. However, with some slick CSI work (that happens off stage), it become obvious that the shooting was done by a third party.

The detectives and detective work are believable as are the criminals. Also, the story seemed too short. I was caught up in the charters and plot and was felt wanting more at the end. I wanted to know that I could tune in next week and watch Staal and Degarmo solve another. Here is hoping that these characters end up in a novel.







   Detective Jack Staal glanced up from his double cheeseburger when Penny, his
waitress, asked him if he needed anything else. “Nope,” he said, chewing a
    Penny topped up his coffee before she headed for the kitchen. The eatery had less
than twenty tables and was well-known for gourmet burgers at fast-food prices. Encased
in Lucite beneath his plate and covering every inch of wall space was a photo collection
of Hanson, British Columbia from 1880s black and whites to present-day glossies,
chronicling the town’s one-hundred-eighteen-year history.
    His phone buzzed in his blazer pocket. “Staal,” he said.
    “Yeah, Jack. It’s Barns.” It was Sergeant Maxwell Barns, head of the Major Crime Section of the Hanson Police Service. “Just had a shots fired called in over on Carnarvon.”
    “Oh yeah. Need us to roll?” Staal sat straight in his seat.
    “Not yet, just a heads-up. Uniform is checking it out. I’ll let you know.”
    Constable Detective Lesley Degarmo returned from the restroom and slid into her
seat in front of Staal. Degarmo became Staal’s first female partner when Staal transferred
from Vancouver Police Major Crimes. At forty-two, Degarmo was a rarity in the service;
a happily married career cop with two kids. Staal was skeptical of her abilities at first;
however, he quickly realized she was a good cop and a skilled investigator.
    “So, Jack. Is it back to the house for another look at that disgruntled employee list?”
    Degarmo referred to a list of former TD bank employees as possible suspects in three
heists of Dominion branches.
    “Doubt it. Just heard from the boss. Shots fi red on—” His phone interrupted.
    “Staal. Get over to 420 Carnarvon. Bothman and Kalan got two not breathing,” Barns
    Staal relayed the information to his partner and placed thirty dollars on the table for
the tab. He increased his pace, moving at a slight jog until he and Degarmo reached their
department-issued Chevrolet Impala sedan.
     Six HPS cruisers were already on the scene. One squad car had Carnarvon blocked
at Fourth Street and another at Sixth. Neither cruiser was allowing civilian vehicle or
pedestrian traffic to pass. Gus Cannon, a sergeant of patrol, recognized Staal and crossed
from the sidewalk on Agnes Avenue to the driver’s window of the Impala.
    “Witness reported two teenagers dressed in dark colors running down the hallway from
the scene,” Cannon said. “I’ve got every available unit searching the neighborhood.”
    “Sounds good,” Staal said. “They probably had a car parked right here.”
    Staal drove, circling the twin buildings at Fourth and Carnarvon before stopping next
to an ambulance in front of 420. Staal walked to the rear of his Impala and removed a
black duffel bag from the trunk. A lone uniformed cop stood at the front entrance and
waved to him and Degarmo.
    “They’re up on 14,” Constable Margaret Chan said as she held open the door.
    A second uniform stood guard at suite number 1411. Constable Steven Wall moved
aside to allow the detectives to enter the suite.
    The apartment was spotlessly clean and recently refurbished with a slate entrance
way and oak hardwood flooring. The walls were finished in an off-yellow color that Staal
believed to be called summer straw. In the kitchen were uniform cops, Graham Bothman
and Gurdeep Kalan, and two EMTs.
    Kalan nodded to the detectives and moved toward the hallway. “Out here,” she said.
    “Both of them. In the living room.”
    “Oh Jesus!” Degarmo said, sighing.
    “Shit!” Staal shook his head. Even after seventeen years on the force, he had never
gotten used to humanity’s capacity for violence and cruelty. The room reeked of burnt
gunpowder and blood.
    It was the smell of murder.
    Lying on his back next to the window was a Caucasian male in his late fifties with
an obvious gunshot wound to his right temple.


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Reviewed by Cryssa C 11/17/2008
Not my usual fare, but reading your words is like watching a Perry Mason rerun... You have me on the edge of my seat with baited breath waiting for more...
Reviewed by Linda Law 11/15/2008
You got me.... It sounds like it's going to be a thriller alright... I love this type of story...(I know....yuck) but it's my thing... I'm in the middle of writing one myself...not an easy feat is it? good job here ... lindalaw

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