Sunday, August 28, 2011


By Darrell James

(Thanks to friend, Sue Ann Jaffarian, for graciously offering me the opportunity to post as a guest today on Criminal Minds. )

Question of the week: “You’re in the back of a police car with your phone, who/what would you tweet?” (A dilemma, for sure, but fortuitous to have a phone.)

As the series character in my debut thriller Nazareth Child, Del Shannon, is one person who is no stranger to the back seat of a patrol car. As a teenager, growing up with her abusive father, she was in and out of trouble quite a bit. But, through the careful mentoring of her kindly probation officer, Del, it seems, has turned out all right. Or has she?

As we meet our girl for the first time, she is 29 years old and working for Randall Willingham, owner of Desert Sands Covert, an investigative firm in Tucson, Arizona. Del specializes in finding and recovering missing persons (an irony not lost on Randall, as Del’s own mother has been among the missing since Del’s infancy). After only two years on the job, she has already gained something of a reputation for being especially good at what she does.

We first come to see Del through Randall’s eyes:

Randall Willingham’s first impression of Del Shannon—  maybe a dancer from one of the clubs.  She was slender in tight-fitting jeans and sandals, a halter top snugged down to a flat, bare midriff. She had a small gold ring pierced into her navel and a tiny, yellow crescent moon tattooed on the outside of her left wrist. She had attitude, this girl.
What threw him, though, was the hair. It was cropped short like a boy’s. A blonde sprig of it had fallen across her eyes¾that day she walked out of the elevator and into his office.

Del, we see, is independent, tough and smart. But mostly she’s determined. She’s beautiful, seemingly without being aware of it. She’s accustomed to desert life. More often than not, wears boots and jeans. She drives a red Jeep Wrangler and carries the Baby Eagle handgun—the smaller sister to the Desert Eagle and built with a smaller profile and weight to accommodate a woman’s grip—usually tucked into her waistband at the small of her back.

Her love life is mostly hit and run. Has a tendency to take unnecessary risks (something that troubles Randall deeply). She’s not prone to hysterics. But, rather, operates with something of a manifest destiny to her cause. When confronting dangerous fugitives, her favorite response is: “There’s something you should know about me, (insert favorite villain’s name here)… I never bluff.”

She’s not one to Facebook or Tweet.

So, this morning, as we find Del surprisingly back in the back seat of the police car, her cell phone in hand, she places a call to Tucson Police dispatch and asks to be patched through to Officer Ripley, the very patrolman who has just placed her in the back of his cruiser.

Officer Ripley, is just beyond the car window, tidying up notes for his report, when his cell phone rings. He answers, “Ripley.”

Del says, “…”.

This is where you come in, reader/writer. I’ve given you her profile, something about her attitude and behaviors. What would you have Del say? The commenter with the best dialogue response (in my sole and unbiased discretion) will receive a FREE copy of Nazareth Child. I will announce the winner in my own comment at the end of the day, midnight, Sunday. Along with my own response to the question.

Give it a try! Remember, she’s one cool chick!

“Del Shannon has the makings of a solid series character.”
Publisher’s Weekly
“A compelling, psychological journey and powerful debut. Filled with strong, realistic characters, biting dialogue and tense, turbulent action.”  
Stephen Jay Schwartz, L.A. Times Bestselling Author of Boulevard and Beat

Darrell James is a fiction writer with residence in both Pasadena, CA, and Tucson, AZ. His short stories have appeared in numerous mystery magazines and book anthologies, and have garnered a number of awards, to include finalist in the 2009 Derringer Awards. In addition, his personal odyssey to publication appears in the Writer’s Digest book HOW I GOT PUBLISHED, along with J.A. Jance, David Morrell, Clive Cussler, and many other notable authors. His latest short story will appear in the Lee Child (MWA) anthology, VENGEANCE, coming from Little Brown in spring of 2012. NAZARETH CHILD, his first novel in the Del Shannon series, has just been released from Midnight Ink/Llewellyn Worldwide.

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