Much of Holland Bay deals with Jessica Branson, a former Homicide detective who is exiled to the city’s most useless squad after shooting the son of a sitting mayor. Her crime? She was exonerated for the killing.
“Hazing” is the story of that killing. It’s not even central to the case. Branson and her partner, Sarah Ryland, are called out to investigate the drowning death of a fraternity pledge.One of the witnesses is Ray Kozinski, whose father is the mayor. Branson’s sergeant makes it clear: Handle Kozinski with care. When he balks, Branson and Ryland back off.
And yet Kozinski thinks Branson is quite the catch. So when he lures Branson to his parents’ home while they’re out of town, he makes his move. One lesson the mayor has not taught his son is that no means no. Another thing our young college student doesn’t understand is that attacking an armed cop can easily result in a bullet to the chest.
I wrote this story after I finished the original draft of Holland Bay. I wanted to get into Branson’s head and understand why she was where I put her and why she’s hating life at the start of the story.
Highway 101/Bad History
“Highway 101” grew out of a pair of trips I took to San Francisco several years ago. I loved the area and wanted to write a story set there. Over time, I came up with Brian Selkirk, a young convict from Ohio trying to go straight. Unfortunately, one of his former cellmates shows up wanting to know where an old biker from their prison days put a stash of money. His solution to the problem results in wiping out the life he’s built for himself in the Bay Area.
A couple of years later, Brian Thornton asked me to participate in the anthology West Coast Crime Wave. The stories would take place anywhere from San Diego to Seattle and even in Alaska. I immediately decided to revisit Brian Selkirk to find out what happened to him. Since anyone who found his car at the end of that story would think that the driver died in the crash, Selkirk would legally be dead. It’s around that time that I also came up with the idea of Loman from Road Rules taking advantage of his “death.” So Selkirk has invented “Tony Bolin” and begun building a new life, ironically with some of the people who helped him start over in San Francisco. But one person recognizes him. Sam Gouty is a corrupt former prison guard from San Quentin who is out of work and wants a job. Once again, Selkirk/Bolin’s world is shattered.
I wrote a third story that I need to revisit, but it brings closure to this storyline. For now, Selkirk/Bolin is left trying to kill Sam Gouty.
Eddie Soroya played a large role in the original draft of Holland Bay. He still makes an appearance in the current version, but I need to trim the exploding cast of characters. Soroya was born in Iran but raised in America. In the post-9/11 era, he has a dilemma. He is Middle Eastern in a nation full of people, including people of Middle Eastern descent, suspicious of Middle Easterners. He is also in a city with a large Mexican population. A quick look in the mirror and frequent exposure to Spanish convinces him that he can “pass.” But as an assignment undercover in the city’s transit system shows, it’s not a fool-proof plan. The city’s monorail goes to the airport, so no amount of swearing in convincing Spanish is going to soothe the nerves of travelers unwilling to end their flights on the top floor of a skyscraper. It goes further than that. At the airport, he is taken down by a brother officer who doesn’t realize he’s undercover. The story is all about prejudice and, sometimes, making it worse.