Dying is overrated. Murder is not.
Trust me, after fifteen years as a detective, I know a lot about both. Like death and murder are always complicated, but not always related. You can have death without murder, but not the other way around. That’s what I used to think anyway. Now, I know you can have it both ways. I’m living, or rather dying, proof.
I’m Tuck—formerly Detective Oliver Tucker—and I used to be a homicide detective in Winchester, a small community in northwestern Virginia. My partner, Bear Braddock, and I thought life was good. He was my partner and best friend. I was married to Angel, a beautiful and brilliant history professor, and he had, well, me as his partner.
Everyone wins, right?
Not so much.
One night during my reoccurring nightmare—I was chasing a bad guy and he turned and shot me—someone broke into our home. Hercule, my black Lab, woke me and Angel sent me to investigate. It didn’t turn out well.
The bastard was waiting for me. He murdered me with my own gun—right there in my own house.
And then things got really bad.
Winchester’s near-300-year history began to haunt me. For a rural community for the most part—it’s too small to really be a city and too large to be a town—it has an abundance of secrets. You see, it’s steeped in fascinating history all the way back to George Washington with extra helpings of the Civil War. We’ve got it all—Civil War battlefields, Mosby’s Rangers, prohibition gangsters, World War II spies, and all manner of heroes, villains, and characters. I never knew that some of them were connected to me. Some of those heroes and villains (but mostly the characters) will drive my adventures as a dead detective—starting with trying to solve the most important case of my life. My own.
But these things happen.
So anyway, I was murdered. That left Angel and Bear trying to solve my case without me. Or are they? See, a couple of other detectives on my squad aren’t so sure. At least one of them, a little snake named Spence, thinks Angel and Bear are in my murder up to their cheating hearts. And dead or not, I have to know. And it hurts all the way to the truth.
But, being dead isn’t all bad. My best pal, Hercule, doesn’t care. He loves me just the same—although it’s a little harder to play ball. And I found a crusty old spirit living in my house I never knew about—Doc Gilley—and I’ve learned that he and Hercule are old pals. So holy “shoot me in the heart,” my new world is complicated and strange. And all I have is a lazy, ball-playing dog and a crotchety old surgeon to guide me.
What could go wrong?
It took a while to reach Angel—Hercule helped me. Once I did, she and I are making a pretty good team hunting my killer. And along the way, I’m learning a thing or two about being dead. Like I have this neat talent for hanging around and listening to other’s conversations when they don’t know it—and I don’t need a warrant. And I can sometimes flash into a person’s memories and past—if I can find a way to connect to them and if those memories or past are emotionally charged. Like someone being another murder victim or even a cold-blooded serial killer. Then WHAM sometimes I can connect the dots. True, those little vignettes are not always clear—it’s not like on T.V.—but the trips down psycho lane do help. And Angel and Hercule do too—although Angel seems more worried about protecting Bear’s secrets than solving my killing. Oh, she’s okay with me being back—it was the “why” part she’s worried about.
Bear’s another story.
See, Theodore Braddock has a thick head sometimes. He’s a mountain of man and a very private one, too. He refuses to believe I’m around. Not that I blame him. But what’s not clear is why he’s so rattled. Is he worried I might be back to kill my murderer? Does he have something to lose in that equation? What did I miss all those years we were partners? Hmmm…
Time will tell.
So there you have it. I’m a dead detective trying to solve my murder—and other’s too. That’s why I’m back among the living but not one of them. I can work with the living and help the dead find justice. They just don’t pay me a retainer or expenses.
I really don’t have a choice, now do I?
You can read more about Tucker in Dying To Know, the first book in the new “Gumshoe Ghost” mystery series, published by Midnight Ink. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by noon EST on January 7, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of Dying to Know. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.
Meet the author
TJ O’Connor is the author of Dying to Know, available in books stores and e-books on January 8th, 2014. TJ is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he’s lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York’s Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and three lab companions in Virginia where they raised five children. Dying To Know is the first of seven novels to be published.
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