Archive for September, 2010

Donut Heaven: From To Fetch A Thief

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September 30th, 2010 Posted 8:57 am

Donut Heaven is across the street from Burger Heaven. We met Rick Torres outside, parking beside his cruiser cop-style, driver’s side door to driver’s side door. He handed a bag through the window.

“Bear claws,” Rick said. “Half price after four.”

Bears I’ve seen plenty of on Animal Planet, never in real life – fine with me – and I’d watched what their claws could do, oh, brother, but how these delicious bear claws fit in was a mystery. We got busy with our bear claws, Rick and Bernie sipping coffee at the same time.

“Got anything?” Bernie said.

“Nope,” Rick said. “An elephant disappears and no one saw zilch.”

“Plus the trainer.”

“Yeah, plus the trainer. We checked his bank account. Balance of a few thousand dollars, no recent withdrawals amounting to anything.”

“But he could have stashed something somewhere,” Bernie said.

“Thanks,” Rick said. “That’s a big help.”

“There’s also this,” Bernie said, handing over the ankus, now wrapped in plastic.

Rick turned it in his hand. “Which is?”

“An ankus,” Bernie said.

“Looks nasty.”

“It’s an ancient device from Asia, apparently. For training and managing elephants.”

“They poke them with it?”

“More like goading them,” Bernie said.

“Christ.”

“Yeah. Chet found it in a ditch, not far from that back gate at the fairgrounds.”

I thumped my tail, or at least thought about it. This was the best bear claw I’d ever had, no question.

“Someone dropped it?” Rick said.

“Or it fell off the back of a trailer,” Bernie said. “Hard to imagine Peanut on foot and not even one lousy citizen calling in.”

“I can imagine that easy,” Rick said. He touched where the point of the ankus hook pushed at the plastic. “I thought DeLeath was supposed to be humane.” Rick sipped his coffee for a bit. “I’m gonna have this dusted for prints,” he said.

“See?” Bernie said, talking to who I didn’t know. “That’s the kind of thing that can’t be taught.”

Rick winged his coffee cup lid at Bernie. Bernie laughed. Humans can be impossible to understand but I don’t let it bother me.

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Autumn: From To Fetch A Thief

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September 29th, 2010 Posted 8:26 am

Bernie knocked on the door, a heavy wooden door, the kind you see on the old ranches in the Valley. I heard footsteps approaching, a click-click of high heels. Houses of ill-repute come up from time to time in our job – I’ve liked every one.

The door opened. A young woman in a short black dress looked out. “Sorry,” she said, “we’re closed.” Behind her the coffee shop was dark except for the white glow of a cooler and tiny green machinery lights here and there.

“Too late for coffee anyway,” Bernie said. “I’d never sleep.” Don’t ask me what that was about; the young lady didn’t appear to get it either. But then Bernie took out our card and we were back on track. “Mind showing this to Livia?” he said. She nodded and closed the door. We waited. A patrol car went down the street, didn’t slow down.

“What does that tell you?” Bernie said.

I didn’t know.

More clickety-clicks from inside. The door opened and the young woman looked out again, this time with a friendly smile. “Mr. Little? Please come in.”

Which we did.

“I’m Autumn,” the young woman said, closing the door.

“That’s a nice name,” Bernie said.

“I found it online,” Autumn said.

“Oh,” said Bernie.

She looked at me. “Is this Chet? Livia asked me if he was with you.”

“Yup,” Bernie said.

“Can I pat him?”

“He hates that.”

“You’re joking right?”

Of course he was. Bernie’s quite the joker at times, not always the right ones. But in this case everything worked out fine. Autumn turned out to be an excellent patter. The young ladies in houses of ill-repute were always excellent patters, although why I wasn’t sure. What the whole business was about, meaning what was actually for sale – for example, Max’s Memphis Ribs sold ribs – remained a mystery to me.

Answer for Kirby T: Yes, Jim Frangione has recorded To Fetch A Thief. Should be available.

Spencer Quinn:

Tonight, 7 PM – Highfield Hall, Depot Ave., Falmouth MA 02540

Saturday Oct. 2, 2 PM – Poisoned Pen, 4014 North Goldwater, Phoenix AZ 85251

Sunday Oct. 3, 2 PM – Murder By The Book, 2342 Bissonet St., Houston TX 77005

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Pub Date!

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September 28th, 2010 Posted 8:18 am

We went down to Mexico, me and Bernie, and had some adventures. And other adventures not in Mexico. Some of it’s getting a little blurry – does that happen to you? – although not the Lola part. Anyway, it’s all in To Fetch A Thief. Peanut’s in there, too. No forgetting Peanut! Also we got shot at, me and Bernie. That always sticks in my mind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuzC0E5W86s

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Pub Date Tomorrow: To Fetch A Thief

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September 27th, 2010 Posted 8:21 am

So here’s an excerpt from To Fetch A Thief.

“Uncle Rio’s,” said Bernie, backing into a little parking space in one move, smooth and easy. Driving with Bernie: always a pleasure, unless the tools had to come out. “You’ll like this.”

I was liking it already. Me and Bernie together – what was not to like?

Uncle Rio’s was on a dark street not far from the fairgrounds. The only bright lights around were the top of the ferris wheel, spinning slowly in the night, and the neon signs in Uncle Rio’s window. It was a bar, of course: I can smell them from miles away, miles away being kind of far unless I’ve missed something. What do bars smell like? Stale beer, burned grease, puke. Hey! They go together! A strange thought, not my usual … I wondered …

And was still wondering when we went into Uncle Rio’s. It turned out to be one of those dark skinny joints, a long bar on one side, a row of tables on the other, a little dance floor at the end. No dancing happening at the moment, probably a good thing, since dancing sometimes gets me going. There was only one woman in the place, drinking down at the end of the bar. A few big guys sat by the beer taps, big guys with cut-off denim jackets, maybe bikers. The bartender serving them had a tattoo on the side of his face; a cigarette dangled from his mouth even though I was pretty sure there was no smoking in Valley bars. He looked at us, saw Bernie, and said, “You son of a bitch.”

The big guys turned and gave us tough-guy stares. The biggest said, “Want us to take care of this dude, Rio?”

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