Writing Next of Kin, my first crime fiction novel in a series, isn’t as easy as “Just the facts, Ma’am,” a well-remembered line from Sergeant Joe Friday, LAPD, in the 1950s Dragnet TV series. One of my characters speaks in frequent clichés and idioms. Witnesses the sergeant interviewed spoke in generalities and riddles. Here’s how Sergeant Friday (JF) might have conducted an interview in my investigation.
JF: Have you seen the suspect in this neighborhood before?
Once in a blue moon.
JF: How far were you from the perpetrator?
He was only a skip, hop and a jump away.
JF: Did he speak to you?
He was quiet as a church mouse.
JF: What did you do when you saw the weapon?
I kept a stiff upper lip and didn’t bat an eyelid.
JF: How did you get away?
I’m healthy as a horse, so I stepped on it and escaped by the skin of my teeth.
JF: Thanks for your help, Ma’am. Here’s my card. Call me if you see the suspect again.
Will do, Sergeant. I’ll keep an eye out. He may turn up like a bad penny. If he doesn’t keep his nose clean, I hope you’ll throw the book at him and put him away where he’ll never see the light of day.
It’s no wonder I’m struggling with the facts. Even the adept Joe Friday couldn’t solve this mystery.