When I wrote the first book in the series, Final Respects, I had no idea that it would continue on.
When I began writing it, I had several ideas I wanted to incorporate into the plot: children paying in a mortuary, how what was going on with the family affected the job and vice versa, how the death of a popular police officer would affect many, and the fact that the officers are busy working on lots of cases at once. I began developing the characters and really began to know them. The book is dark with more explicit images than later books.
Once I'd finished, I knew I had to know more about what was going on with these folks and Bad Tidings came next. The focus was on the police detective in this one, the man who had to deliver bad tidings to many people and received one of his own. There are two murder cases in this book to keep both police detectives in this small department busy.
Next came Fringe Benefits. The main character in this offering is a very bad cop. Gordon Butler has the bad luck to be assigned this guy as his training officer. And from there, things go from bad to worse. The series is still pretty dark at this juncture and doesn't lighten up for the next one either.
Smell of Death came to me when my police officer son-in-law complained that movies and books didn't really depict how bad the smell of death is. Officer Stacey Wilbur plays an important part in this book as she gives a helping hand to Detective Doug Milligan while he's working on three important cases, the gruesome murders of a mother and grandmother as well as a missing toddler.
Along the way, Officers Abel Navarro and Felix Zachary have played supporting roles.
The series takes on a slightly lighter tone in No Sanctuary which is about two churches, two ministers, two wive and one murder. Though Stacey Wilbur is called upon to play a huge role in catching a child molester. A romance begins between Stacey and Doug Milligan.
The lightness continues in An Axe to Grind. Though it begins with a headless corpse, it does have a few humorous cop moments. Stacey and Doug Milligan have become quite serious about one another. Doug's investigation into the murder of a stalker leads him into dangerous territory.
Angel Lost takes us to the planning of Stacey's and Doug's wedding that almost doesn't happen, but also the investigation of a man who exposes himself to women jogging on the beach. Officer Gordon Butler plays in important part in the climax of this tale and I thought it was time to give the guy a starring role.
In No Bells Gordon has found the woman of his dream. The problem is she's one of the primary suspects in a murder case. Because the detectives are sure they've found the killers, Gordon must do an investigation on his own.
And that's more or less how my gritty police procedural series has become more of a cozy police procedural. It doesn't have the classic features of a cozy, of course, no hobbies or recipes, but there also isn't any bad language and the bedroom door is shut.
When No Bells is available, you'll have to tell me what you think.
All the books are available as e-books, the last four are also trade paperbacks.