The Compleat Kepler: Cold Cocked

cover-smallerCold Cocked

The Deep Purple song that inspired this one was an obscure one off Machine Head called “Pictures from Home.” Some would ask, “Why not ‘Highway Star’ or ‘Lazy’ or ‘Space Truckin”?” Or, for that matter, why not “Smoke on the Water?” Well, actually, I did come up with a story inspired by “Smoke on the Water,” but it’s a lengthy one involving a fictionalized version of the abandoned Chippewa Lake Amusement Park near where I grew up. I outlined that one, and it may or may not become the fourth Kepler novel. I have not decided yet.

I took all the titles from the album and tried to come up with an image. “Smoke on the Water” was pretty obvious. The old park was, until the land was finally cleared in 2010 for development, prone to arson fires. “Pictures from Home,” though, didn’t go the way I expected it. Those who know the song tend to fixate on the lines “I’m alone here/With emptiness, eagles, and snow,” which doesn’t work for a private detective prowling the mean streets of Cleveland. There’s nothing empty about Cleveland. Eagles there are a band featuring Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and former Clevelander Joe Walsh. And snow? You’re not alone in the snow in Cleveland. There are two million people in that whole corner of Ohio who want butcher Punxetawney Phil and Buckeye Chuck for lying to them about snow.

But the title… Now that’s different. Pictures from home? The story starts with a picture. And Nick’s taking the picture. I decided to make that a shocking picture. He’s photographing a carefully staged murder scene. The idea is to show the woman who tried to pay him to kill someone the photo. When she hands over the money, in swoops Nick’s pal, Homicide Sergeant Frank Windsor, to slap the cuffs on her, and the “deceased” shows up at the police station, they have a slam dunk for prosecution. Only someone cold cocks (hence the title) Kepler and the “deceased” dies for real in this one. Now, both Kepler and Windsor are suspects. And it’s up to Windsor’s partner Bertkowski (who first appeared in “Just Like Suicide”) to straighten things out.

Megan Powell, the editor of the old Shred of Evidence zine, snatched this one up, having published “Full Moon Boogie.”