Friday, September 25, 2009
Investigating the Investigator
By Russel D McLean
This post – an entirely fictional interview with an entirely fictional character – contains mild spoilers for THE GOOD SON.
J. McNee – he won’t give me his first name – is a private investigator working out of the Scots city of Dundee. Last year I was privileged to chronicle his investigative work, and again it seems I’ve been allowed back to chronicle one of his most recent high profile cases. Seemed a good time to catch up, see what was on his mind. We met at his offices on 1 Courthouse Square, and when I went in he was the one making the coffee. As ever, there was a slight air of sadness just below the surface whenever he talked, and I was loathe to ask him about how he was coping two years on from the death of his fiancée. But there was something else, too, a kind of change I could sense in him. From the most recent case? Or the passage of time? I was eager to find out… but getting the answers you want from a man like McNee isn’t an easy task…
Russel D McLean: I’m glad you could take out the time to talk to is. Its been just under a year since we last clocked in with you.
J McNee: Sure. Doesn’t feel that long.
RDM: How much has changed in your life?
JM: Hard to say. I’m still working. Haven’t found a replacement for Bll [Bill was McNee’s assistant before an incident involving two London hard men]
RDM: So he’s gone?
JM: I couldn’t fit access for his chair to the offices. And his boyfriend, Andy, blamed me for what happened. For putting him in that chair in the first place.
RDM: Do you think he’s right?
JM: Some days, aye, I’d agree with him. But you have to keep moving on. So I’m still working as in investigator. Still taking on cases. Been doing some work with a guy at the local paper, The Dundee Herald.
RDM: Cameron Connelly?
JM: That’s yer man. He’s had some troubles himself. His brother-in-law was an investigator.
RDM: Used to work out of your offices. Guy named Bryson. I knew him a little.
JM: Anyway, Connelly’s been getting me some gigs. Mostly on the QT considering his lords and masters don’t appreciate any extra expense.
RDM: He was the one told you about the Furst case?
JM: Aye. A favour for a friend. Can I give you some advice? Never do favours for friends. It never works out well.
RDM: Last time we spoke, you and PC Susan Bright had started to patch up your differences. I was never too clear why you stopped speaking the first place.
JM: (pause) It was complicated. As anything personal is. And this case… the missing girl… there’s been some fallout. I’m not sure what any of it means, of course.
RDM: You’ve been seen working with a man I believe to be another investigator.
RDM: Looks like a cross between Brian Blessed and the BFG.
JM: Wickes. His name is Wickes. He was an investigator back in the day. Now, he’s… he doesn’t operate on the books, let’s put it that way.
RDM: And he’s a friend of yours?
RDM: Without getting too personal, I understand that with this case, there were some official questions being asked about –
JM: – I can’t talk about it.
RDM: We need to –
JM: – I won’t talk about it. Are you getting the message yet?
RDM: Following the suicide you investigated a year ago, it seems like your investigations seem to attract this kind of controversy I’m trying to talk about. All I want to –
JM: – The interview’s over, pal. We can’t talk about that.
Can’t or won’t? It’s hard to tell with a guy like McNee. Leaving the interview, I was sure there was more going on than I knew about his latest case. The missing girl, Mary Furst, was fourteen years old, seemed like any other girl. Except her godfather was a known criminal and I got the impression that there had been other secrets hidden by her more immediate family. And then there was this guy Wickes. When I started asking McNee about him, the atmosphere shifted in the room. Something happened between them that McNee wanted to avoid talking about. Something bad. Something deadly…
J. McNee’s latest case is chronicled in THE LOST SISTER, by Russel D McLean, available in the UK from Five Leaves Publications on October 1. The first McNee novel, THE GOOD SON is available now in the UK and will be release in the US by St Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne in December ’09.