Every PI is supposed to have a friend on the force. Spenser, for instance, had Boston’s Martin Quirk. Kepler has Homicide Sergeant Frank Windsor. It’s never clear how these two became friends, though it’s implied that it dates back to Kepler’s days as a claims investigator.
The earliest mention of Windsor comes in the short story “Valentine’s Day,” where Sgt. Windsor seems amused by Nick’s dilemma with a client-turned-stalker.
He’s the oldest character in the series. The original Nick Kepler and the one eventually written into an aborted novel are not the same character who first appears in “A Walk in the Rain,” but Windsor is very much the same cop: rumpled, greasy-haired, and fond of cheap cigars.
Windsor genuinely likes Nick, mainly because Nick used to be a cop and understands why he’s not anymore. I tried to work him into Northcoast Shakedown, but the best I could do was a passing mention. In Second Hand Goods, Nick is stuck in some pretty nasty stuff, and Windsor isn’t too happy being left out of the loop. His normal partner is a mob-obsessed detective named Paul Bertkowski, but Bertkowski is on vacation in this one. So Windsor takes a younger detective, Sarah Wiseman, under his wing. She really can’t understand why Windsor tolerates Nick. He’s cagey about a dead car thief and an equally dead Russian trigger man. He’s clearly hiding a fugitive (Lenny Slansky). Plus she’s convinced Nick is having an affair with Elaine, which is not true when she meets him.
But Windsor has known Kepler for years, knows he’s scrupulous, and knows he holds back for good reasons. With the Russian mob involved, however, Windsor’s patience is pushed to the limit. Instead of an ally, Nick finds Windsor becoming an enemy on a front he never wanted opened.