Friday, February 13, 2004

A gift for my mystery-writing friends

Here's one I ran across in connection with my day job. These guys happen to live in Roseburg, Oregon, and the more I read about them, the more I wish I were a mystery writer:

'Cold Case Cowboys' Ride Again
Boyle is a member of the Douglas County sheriff office's cold case squad, which investigates local unsolved homicides. The squad, now in its second year, may be the only all-volunteer cold case team in the nation.

The squad is made up of four retired cops who just happened to settle in this town 123 miles north of the California line. They didn't know one another, although all four spent the majority of their law enforcement years in California. The joke in these parts is that Oregon is where California cops come to die.

County employees refer to the team as "the old guys."

The youngest is 58, the oldest, 68. All have gray or silver hair, one has a bad leg, a couple have fading eyesight, and all claim to suffer from varying degrees of deafness. Three wear black cowboy hats, and all take delight in ribbing one another, orneriness being one quality among cops that might actually increase with age.

The old guys have turned out to be a crack team.

I can just see it: a bunch of quirky old men show up the hurried young officers by means of patience, wit and experience. (Wandering over the boundary into fiction here.) There's a chance for well-orchestrated characters: good at different aspects of investigation; good cop-bad cop opportunities; man-about-town type and one faithfully married 50 years. Over the course of the series, different members of the group take the protagonist slot, so that author can keep things fresh while maintaining the continuity of their camaraderie.

I simply can't write a murder mystery, so if you're reading this and it interests you, run with it. If it makes you a potful of money, buy me a latte the next time you're in town

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