The C.o.P. on the Scene Mysteries Book 1
by Kassandra Lamb
Genre: Crime Mystery
Judith Anderson’s no-nonsense attitude and confidence served her well in her climb to homicide lieutenant in the Baltimore County PD, but that confidence is shaken when she finds herself one step behind a serial killer—just eight days into her new job as Chief of Police in a small Florida city.
The first victim, a female college student, may be a case of wrong place, wrong time. But the bodies keep coming, with a mishmash of MOs, and the murders may be linked to various cases in nearby Jacksonville.
While Judith assumed the CoP job would be challenging, she’s finding it harder than she imagined to establish her authority without alienating and be more hands-on without micro-managing. Plus, evidence is stacking up that there’s a leak in her department.
Who can she trust? If she makes the wrong assumption, the wrong decision, it may be her last. In a race to save lives, she’ll draw on every talent and instinct that made her a star in Baltimore. But will it be enough this time?
Fans of JA Jance’s Sheriff Joanna Brady and JD Robb’s Eve Dallas will love this new female cop on the scene!
Eight days on the new job, and here I was, at my first homicide scene.
I stared down at the young woman who had once been attractive, before someone had gone at her with the proverbial blunt instrument.
It was the middle of the night, of course. And it was raining. Spritzing really, drizzle with some umph behind it.
Swiping moisture from my face, I noted the position of her hands. Resting on her thighs, on top of a short tan skirt that was not shoved up. But there was blood on it. Odds were fifty/fifty whether she’d been sexually assaulted. “Any sign of a weapon?”
“No, ma’am,” the uniform beside me said, shaking his head forlornly. Or maybe the shadows cast by a nearby lamp pole just made him look forlorn.
The uniform’s name badge read Collins. The stripes on his sleeve put a sergeant in front of that name. Mid-thirties, medium height, thin, dark hair. I knew the name but not the face, until now. He’d been on vacation for the last week. Helluva welcome back.
“What’ve we got?” I directed this to Lieutenant Nathan Jacobs, my second in command. He oversaw the other detectives, but the department was so small, he was also in the major crimes rotation. And he’d apparently caught this miserable case.
“No purse, no ID.” Jacobs ran a hand over his blond buzz cut. “Could be a working girl. Blunt force trauma, but also ligature marks on the neck, so COD’s a toss-up. The ME is on the way.”
I’d tensed at marks on the neck. Hiding my reaction behind a neutral mask, I stared at him.
“No witnesses.” He paused. “Yet. Uniforms will start canvassing shortly.” Yeah, good luck with that at two in the morning.
Said uniforms were currently walking a grid, scanning for evidence on the damp ground of the park, shining lights up into the palm trees. Between the rain and the humidity—outrageous even at night, and in October—the officers were a bit wilted.
Except for Jacobs. Fortyish, slender, and slightly below average height—he only had a couple of inches on my five-seven—he looked like he’d stepped out of a men’s fashion magazine. Tailored pinstriped suit, crisp white dress shirt. He shot his cuffs, and gold cuff links glinted, catching the weak light.
I scanned the crime scene again—a small park that had seen friendlier days. Not much I could do to be useful, without getting in the way. “Keep me posted.”
I turned away, then intentionally glanced back over my shoulder. “And don’t be jumping to conclusions, gentlemen. For all we know she was a UNF sorority sister out with friends for a night on the town.”
Both Jacobs and the sergeant bowed their heads. You would’ve thought I’d said the victim was a nun.
I chuckled internally.
As the new Chief of Police of Starling, Florida, population roughly eleven thousand souls, it wasn’t absolutely necessary for me to go to crime scenes. But I’d told the dispatchers that I wanted to be called for all major crimes.
I needed to get a feel for the types of crimes my department encountered. While Starling is a small city—or medium-sized town, depending on your perspective—it’s only a few miles from Jacksonville, which has all the big-city problems as my hometown of Baltimore.
Plus, one of the many reasons I’d taken this job was to get back into the field some. I’d considered it providence when I’d seen the recruitment ad for a new police chief of a town big enough to match my salary but small enough to allow me to be more hands-on.
Of course, that salary in Baltimore County had been for a homicide lieutenant, while here it was for the police chief. But the cost of living was lower, so it was still a step up.
I contemplated my feelings about providence—fate, or whatever—as I drove through Starling’s minuscule red-light district. Do I still believe in some sense of order and direction in the universe? I suppose I do.
The image of that young woman’s battered face flared across my mind.
One thing for sure, I didn’t want to think that I was in this battle against evil alone.
Check out the related series here where Judith from Lethal Assumptions makes her first appearance in Police Protection!
In her youth, Kassandra Lamb had two great passions—psychology and writing. Advised that writers need day jobs—and being partial to eating—she studied psychology. Her career as a psychotherapist and college professor taught her much about the dark side of human nature, but also much about resilience, perseverance, and the healing power of laughter. Now retired, she spends most of her time in an alternate universe populated by her fictional characters. The portal to this universe (aka her computer) is located in North Central Florida where her husband and dog catch occasional glimpses of her.
Who’s In Charge: The Writer or the Characters?
by Kassandra Lamb
We may given birth to our characters, but once we breathe a bit of life into them, look out! All too often, they have a mind of their own, and there is no stopping them.
In my first series, the Kate Huntington Mysteries, there are two characters who were supposed to be minor players in Book 1. Kate and her best friends, the Franklins, are being pursued by a mutual enemy who doesn’t mind if their loved ones get caught in the crossfire. One of those victims is Kate’s husband.
So her friend, Rob Franklin hires bodyguards to protect her, himself and his wife. Skip Canfield is Kate’s bodyguard. A little later in the book, the police take the situation a bit more seriously and Kate is assigned police protection, in the form of a feisty young policewoman, Rose Hernandez.
Well, by Book 2, Skip is starting his own private investigation agency, he is courting Kate and Rose is training under him to become a private investigator. Never underestimate minor characters!
My characters were a little better behaved in my second series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy Cozy Mysteries, about a service dog trainer and her four-legged best friend. Marcia (pronounced Mar-see-a, not Marsha) meets her love interest in Book 1.
All is going according to plan, until Marcia reveals that she has a full-blown phobia regarding commitment. *sigh* It takes six books before her love interest and I can convince her to commit.
And now I am starting a new series, with Book 1, Lethal Assumptions. The main character, Judith Anderson, was a third-level character in the Kate Huntington books. And I liked her so much, I couldn’t let her fade away into the sunset when I finished the Kate series.
She’s a homicide lieutenant in Baltimore, who gets fed up with the bureaucracy and politics of a big police department, and also with cold weather. So she takes a position in a small Florida city as Chief of Police, where she is the boss and, among other things, she can be more hands-on with major cases. But her first big case is a serial rapist/killer!
And already Judith is giving me headaches. In the Kate books, she was a hard-nosed, mostly unemotional but extremely competent police detective.
But once I crawled inside her head, I discovered that she isn’t unemotional at all. The hard shell is a carefully constructed defense, and the nature of the crimes this killer is committing is challenging those defenses.
The good news is that the assistant I’d created for her is turning out to be a real gem! And she gets inside Judith’s hard shell in record time.
Characters may not always behave, but they certainly do keep the writerly life interesting!
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