This week we move on to the fourth Detective Jimmy Delaney tale: “The Scent of the Crime.”
Our memories are tied tightly into scents, and I wondered if it might be possible to use the combination of scents from a crime scene to trigger a reaction that would give away the perpetrator – that was the idea that launched “The Scent of the Crime.” And of course, the idea that scent could also be used to exert a certain amount of control gave me an excuse to keep manipulative Diana in the storyline (just as I had never intended to write a series, I had never envisioned Diana becoming a major character in that series (I think she may only be second to Jimmy in page appearances.)
Here’s the Blurb
Detective Jimmy Delaney finds himself involved in yet another murder. He knows something smells in Barnstow, but can he use that to find the killer? Read along and see how Jimmy sniffs out “The Scent of the Crime.”
“The Scent of the Crime” is a speculative detective fiction, set slightly in the future, and is also available in “Downtown Blues: Detective Jimmy Delaney Collection #2.”
And Here’s This Week’s Excerpt
Jimmy led Sharon Lewis down the hallway, listening to the sound of her red stilettos as they echoed on the wooden floor; he could even hear the creaking of her red leather skirt and jacket. You’d have thought that she would have changed her preferred ensemble to something more respectable once she was elevated into Barnstow society by her marriage to Raymond Lewis, but money doesn’t buy class, just more expensive leather. Jimmy had a feeling that was part of what had appealed to the millionaire about her in the first place. Sharon did look exceptionally good for a fiftyish former hooker. He opened the door at the end of the hall and turned on the light.
“We can talk in here,” Jimmy said.
He ushered Mrs. Lewis into his office and closed the door. She looked around the room as though she was reassessing whether she had come to the right place. Jimmy moved the mop handle that was leaning across the only chair in Kaczmarek’s broom closet and gestured for her to sit.
“I assure you, Mrs. Lewis, this is where I take all my clients for extra privacy,” Jimmy said. “It’s much more secure than in the bar; no one would bother to bug this place.”
Sharon had her doubts, but she gave the chair a cursory wipe with her leather-gloved hand to keep from soiling her skirt before she sat. She sniffed, and her nose wrinkled as it found something objectionable in the air among the dust and the cleaners. Jimmy moved a carton of hand soap off of a crate of Jim Bean so he’d have somewhere to sit.
Jimmy couldn’t survive without the patronage of Barnstow’s upper crust, and Sharon and Raymond Lewis were definitely near the top of the social register. People knew about Sharon’s past, but prostitution was legal; besides, Raymond had made some of his money in the city’s steamier industry. Money liked money – Jimmy needed to find more respectable digs as soon as he could afford it.
“So, Mrs. Lewis,” he asked, trying to be all business, “what can I do for you today?”
“Jimmy, just call me Sharon,” she said. “I want you to investigate my husband. I think he’s cheating on me.”
She seemed a little embarrassed. Jimmy was sure it was more about the possibility of being caught in a broom closet with him than about her husband’s infidelity. Ever since Jimmy had been hired to stop a blackmailer trying to profit from Sharon’s own playing-around, he had been aware that she had no qualms about the morals of the situation. It wasn’t a matter of conscience for her – just of her standing.
Jimmy had never heard any indication that Mr. Lewis was the type to stray from their relationship. Heck – he was twenty years older than Sharon. Even now, in her early fifties, Jimmy had no doubt that Sharon was carrying on – he’d seen the proof, but Raymond didn’t look to have that inclination, much less stamina.
“Why do you think…” he began to ask, but the door was suddenly flung open, and a sopping wet Pete Kaczmarek was in the middle of the closet, searching the shelves between Jimmy and Sharon before he even realized it was occupied.
“Sorry, Jimmy! I didn’t know you were in here,” Pete said as he grabbed a pipe wrench off the shelf and ran out of the closet.
Jimmy stood quickly and closed the door, then sat back down.
The big Pole had sprayed water around the closet about as effectively as any waterlogged sheep dog; Sharon’s jaw had dropped as she stared down at the brown splatters setting into her clothing. Jimmy decided the only way to salvage the situation was to get immediately back to business.
“So. Why do you think that Mr. Lewis would cheat on you? Isn’t he a bit old for…”
“Raymond isn’t too old for anything, especially if he takes those damn pills. I only wish he was,” she sighed, in a way that made Jimmy wonder why exactly – was it that she didn’t want to do it with him, or she didn’t want others to, or…
“Do you have anyone to attach your suspicions to?” he asked, in an attempt to push a series of unbidden images from his mind.
“He’s been acting really chipper lately, and he only acts that way after he… well, you know,” she said, waving the idea away into the air. “And he hasn’t been with me, lately, so…”
“Okay, then,” Jimmy said. “We’ll be doing standard surveillance, some video, maybe a bit of tapping. I’ll need a deposit of…”
Jimmy stopped talking as Sharon pulled a wad of bills out of her purse and pushed them at him. He didn’t have to be asked twice to take them. He managed to restrain the urge to count; the heft of it told him he didn’t need to.
“Just let me know when that runs out,” she said as she stood and attempted to brush the spots from her skirt. “Maybe you can have an office the next time we meet.”
“I’ve been meaning to get around to that,” Jimmy said.
He opened the door for her, and she walked out of the closet without a look back. Jimmy waited until he couldn’t hear her heels anymore before he looked over the roll she’d given him. Mrs. Lewis definitely wasn’t skimping on this; he might just have an office before it was all over.
Someone whistled and startled him.
“That’s a nice bankroll,” Pete said.
Pete was as honest as the day was long, a recovered alcoholic who bore no resemblance to his criminally-inclined cousin Max – except, of course for being a big-boned Pole. He reached past Jimmy to put the pipe wrench back on the shelf and grab the mop.
“Not that I would know about that sort of thing, but that looks like enough to knock someone off. Who does she want you to take care of?”
“Don’t be ridiculous – you know I can’t divulge what a client’s paying me for. That’s why I bring them back here for privacy,” Jimmy hinted.
“About that,” Pete said.
“Don’t worry about it – you look like it couldn’t be helped,” Jimmy said. “But it’s time to face the facts – I need to get myself a real office.”
Pete’s shoulders drooped.
“You sure you need to do that?” he asked. “Maybe we can fix up something more permanent.”
Jimmy thought he knew what this was about. Ever since Pete’s cousin Max had shot Jimmy, Pete had been trying to make it up to him. He let Jimmy work from the bar, reduced – or sometimes cleared – his tab. He even provided the illusion of some intimidating muscle when needed. Jimmy felt more like the debt had swung the other way around.
“Look, Pete, you’ve more than made up for what Max did to me.”
“Max? This isn’t about Max – it’s about Kaczmarek’s.”
“I don’t understand,” Jimmy said.
“Business is lots better with you here,” Pete said.
“I don’t see how my occasional clients help – they aren’t drinking that much.”
“It’s the notoriety. Before you started working from here, I was thinking I might have to close the place down. Having the famous Jimmy Delaney here helps put Kaczmarek’s on the map.”
Well, that was a twist – he hadn’t realized that Pete was actually depending on him. Jimmy tried to think of a way to keep the Delaney Investigation Company at Kaczmarek’s, but it just wasn’t working.
“The space is still a problem,” he said at last. “I have to give my clients some semblance of privacy, and the broom closet just isn’t cutting it.”
“Maybe I can figure something out,” Pete said, cupping his chin.
It looked like it was more hope than a real idea crawling through Pete’s head, and Jimmy could see that the conversation wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He could also see Webster in his hoody parked in the bar, and needed to get him started on Mrs. Lewis’ case.
“Well look, it’s not like I’m leaving right away – it will take me a while to find a place,” he said. “You let me know if you come up with something.”
“Sure thing, Jimmy,” Pete smiled.
Jimmy hoped he hadn’t fed Pete’s overly optimistic nature too much, but he had to get this job done or it wouldn’t matter where he wanted to work from. Sharon Lewis wouldn’t spread around the details of the work Jimmy had done for her – otherwise, what would be the point. But she had lots of rich friends that could keep Jimmy well employed; he had best insure that she had nothing but good things to say about him.
Jimmy is going to find it very hard to stay on Sharon’s good side, especially if he wants to stay alive. “The Scent of the Crime” is available at many online retailers, including, but not limited to:
Smashwords (at 72% off using coupon RAE50): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/725618?ref=NoTimeToThink
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William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
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