Another Vancouver private investigator series!

Straight into the Deep End PA Wilson

Perry (PA) Wilson writes about a Vancouver private investigator named Charity Deacon. I said to Perry at the beginning of our interview that I feel like Charity and my own heroine Freddie Lark are PI sisters; they’re both in Vancouver and they’re both independent women living the lives that suit them, not to mention solving crime.

Perry writes in several genres so if you enjoy reading outside the mystery genre I highly recommend you check out her other books. She is also in the process of narrating her books for audiobook. It’s a laborious process but she’s making progress and you can buy those audiobooks, including the one for Dreams, directly from her on her website.

Selling ebooks and audiobooks (not paperbacks) directly to the reader is one way independent authors like Perry are able to earn a living from their writing. When you buy directly from an author’s website, she doesn’t have to share the royalties for her books with the online vendor.

Last week on the podcast intro I mentioned a survey I had going about audiobooks. It was Perry who inspired that survey. She gave me some tips about the equipment she was using and after we stopped recording the podcast interview we talked about audiobooks and selling direct.

The survey results looked like this:

  • 37% of people surveyed read between 1 and 5 audiobooks a week; and
  • 58% of respondents DO prefer it when a narrator does character voices

I wanted to know how audiobook readers feel about narrators doing character voices because I’m debating about narrating my own novels, but I’m not sure I could do different voices for each character. But now I have some information about readers’ preferences and that’s good to have. I don’t have the bandwidth right now to add narrating to my plate, but maybe one day I will be able to pick up that project.

Today’s show is supported by my patrons at Patreon. Thank you! When you become a patron for as little as $1 a month you receive a short mystery story each and every month. And the rewards for those who love mystery stories go up from there! Learn more and become a part of my community of readers at www.Patreon.com/alexandraamor

Patreon

This week’s mystery author

PA Wilson

PA (Perry) Wilson lives in New Westminster BC and writes while looking out over a busy arm of the Fraser river.  Nothing like watching a tugboat pull a barge to inspire you.

She worked in project management for several years after a long stretch at a local credit union. Always a writer, she found National Novel Writing Month in 2008 and hasn’t looked back since. She writes mystery fiction with a thriller vibe and a few other genres which she admits are just mystery books with an other world backdrop. 

To learn more about Perry and all her books visit PAWilson.ca

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts. And listen on StitcherAndroidGoogle PodcastsTuneIn, and Spotify.

apple podcasts logo

Excerpt from Dreams

Chapter 1

Dreams PA Wilson

“Hey, Charity, are you around?” Val’s voice floated up to the patio.

I’d given up trying to make her knock on the door like a normal person and handed her a key. That way I didn’t waste energy wondering how she broke in. It’s not like she was disturbing anything private in my life anyway.

“Grab a coke and come up,” I said. The great thing about a tiny home is you don’t need to yell. Or maybe it’s just my neighborhood, where yelling gets you the wrong kind of attention.

I heard the fridge slam and then Val appeared in the door to the patio, Rory right behind her. They stepped out and grabbed a plastic chair each. I put the printout from my only actually active case face down on the table and dropped my phone on it as a paperweight.

“What are you doing?” Val asked.

She’d learned to preface her requests for favors with what appeared to be concern for other people. I looked forward to when she finally exited the self-centered teenage phase. Her history delayed her maturity but hadn’t made her jaded, which was good — in the long term.

“Preparing for a case.” I pushed the bowl of chips toward them. “Are you just visiting?”

“Lu and Matthieu left today, right?”

My best friend and her husband were spending the next three months in France. At least I hoped it was only that long.

“Yes,” I said. “We had dinner yesterday. I’ve been lectured about making friends while she was gone.” Seriously, you’d think I didn’t know how to do those things.

“She’s such a mom. Are you busy with more than that case?” She nodded toward the file.

“We winnowed the outstanding cases down,” I said. “I’ll be looking for more clients soon.”

Val ran her own business, so she knew how hard it might be to find new clients. The personal organization consultant, as she called it, morphed occasionally as she found new interests. Currently she was working with Rory’s dad to create order in their archived files.

Rory MacDonald was the only child of Vancouver’s most famous and successful lawyer, Rance MacDonald. He didn’t want to follow his dad’s path and was trying his hand at being a documentary movie auteur. Rance had done me a few favors too, and maybe he had some cases to refer to me. It would give me something to fill my time.

“I thought maybe you wanted to go out for dinner,” Val said.

Hmm, that was a first. “Lu told you to make sure I didn’t spend the entire time moping?”

“Yes,” Rory said. “But that’s not the only reason.”

“I was going to tell her our idea over dinner,” Val said.

“We’ll still go,” Rory said. He turned to me and straightened up, going from casual semi-hipster to professional as he did. I wondered if his dad gave him some pointers.

“Charity,” he said. “I, we, I mean. We were thinking about how to help you keep busy. I know you don’t have much work going on and we didn’t want to find you moping, that part is true.”

I held up my hand to stop him. “Rory, you’ve got the body language down, but you need to be more focused when you talk if you want to be taken seriously.”

He asked me a while back to do that. Give him feedback without sugar coating it. We shared that facet of personality. We didn’t recognize hints about ourselves. We needed it blunt.

He nodded and then closed his eyes for a moment. “Thanks. I think it would do us both some good if I started following you around and filming your investigations.”

“No.” He couldn’t be with me all the time. How would I sneak off for an afternoon of binging TV?

Val groaned. “You didn’t even think about it.”

“Clients won’t like it. I might get sued if they see their case on the screen. I have to go into some iffy situations that would be worse if Rory were there. Informants wouldn’t talk if they were on camera. Is that enough thought?”

Rory touched Val’s arm to stop her from speaking again.

“All very good objections,” he said. “But I would only film when we had permission. Maybe your clients would like having a visual of the investigations.”

“Maybe they would, but I don’t want them to learn what I do to close a case.”

“I could edit out what you don’t want them to see.”

While Rory and I talked, Val pouted and watched the seagulls. I imagined the discussion before they came. Rory telling Val not to use emotional blackmail to get her way; Val saying I should just do what she asked. I had to give the guy credit. He would probably be a success in the film world with lots of persistence. But he thought we were still negotiating, and I planned to stand firm.

That said, I knew how to end this kind of thing. “Let me think about it.”

“That’s all I ask.”

Now that I’d won, even though Rory thought he was still in the game, I could be magnanimous. “Where do you want to go for dinner? My treat.”

It turned out the dinner was just an excuse. Rory said he had things to do and left Val with me. If I didn’t know him better, I would have sworn he was sulking, but that’s not how Rory did things. At a wild guess, I imagined he was off thinking of a new avenue to convince me to agree.

Val offered to make something, but I ordered pizza.

“Why don’t we stay up here until it arrives?” Val asked. “It’s a nice day, and you look like you could use the relaxation.”

“What’s the other favor?” I asked.

“Nothing. I’m just worried about you.”

There was actual sincerity in her voice. Maybe she was growing up. “I’m over Jake.”

“But you haven’t met anyone new. You’re not even trying. You aren’t moving on.”

I picked up my notes and started for the door. “I didn’t say I was ready to date. I’m too busy with work.”

Val rolled her eyes.

“Don’t start with me, Val. I’ll date when I’m ready. With Lu and Matthieu heading to France, I’m going to be busy with clients.”

Downstairs, I dropped the papers on the counter and grabbed a beer for me and another soda for Val.

“Matthieu said you didn’t have much work.”

Matthieu had a big mouth. “I’ll get new ones.”

“Well, maybe you could come out with us some time and maybe you’ll meet someone.”

“I don’t think I’ll find someone suitable for me by hanging out with you.” I turned on the TV, hoping it would end the conversation.

“What about hanging with someone your age?” Val plopped onto the sofa beside me.

“I don’t know anyone like that.” I had a very small circle of friends. Two. One was on her way to France, the other was on my sofa.

Val grabbed the remote. “What about Leigh?” 

“We’re not friends.” I appreciated her help and her ability to save my life more than once, but I was sure Leigh wouldn’t think of me as a friend either.

Val stopped flicking the channels and settled on a reality show. “Try asking. Or I can invite you both over for dinner and you could get to know her better and then suggest you go to a bar or something.”

“Now it sounds like you’re setting us up,” I said. “Just watch the show.”

“Fine.”

We sat unspeaking for the twenty minutes it took for the pizza to arrive. I let the guy through the security gate and met him halfway down the finger dock to pay him. Usually I waited for deliveries at my door. Tonight, I figured Val would try to set me up with him if I let him any closer.

When I got back, the show was finishing, and the news starting. Val had put plates and napkins on the coffee table.

“Let’s check out a movie,” she said, pulling a slice from the box.

“I want the news.”

“You can watch it online. You don’t have to wait for them to feed stuff to you.”

If I did that, I would be too close to Facebook and Twitter. I didn’t want to admit that to Val. “Let’s just hear what they have to say and then we can stream a movie.”

Val laughed and sat back, chewing on her pizza.

I wanted to hear if the cops had made any progress on the murder of a journalist. She fell down a staircase at the hospital. Going to the most dangerous parts of the world to get a story makes you careful, so I had a hard time believing she fell by accident. If they didn’t have some kind of lead by now, it might be a hard case to solve.

“It is unclear what Ms. LaSalle was doing at the hospital,” the male anchor said. “Our sources have been unable to identify any family or friends who had been admitted. The police are asking for anyone who may have seen her while at the hospital to contact them with any information. “

As usual on this channel, the other anchor needed to chip in part of the story. I guess we were supposed to think they’d done a joint investigation.

“Bob, do we know if the police contacted her employer?”

“They are refusing to give a statement,” Bob answered. “It is possible that she was there in a freelance capacity.”

The female anchor smiled. “I’m sure we’ll have more information soon.” She turned to face the camera and the image behind her changed to show a car wreck. “An accident southbound on the Oak Street Bridge delayed the commute by several hours tonight.”

“It would be great if you had a case like that,” Val said. “I mean, not great that someone got murdered. If Rory could document a murder case, he’d be famous right away.”

“Only the cops investigate murders. Don’t bother to ask, there’s no way they would agree. And I won’t agree to let Rory follow me around.”

Val decided she’d rather spend the rest of the evening with Rory and called a cab as soon as the last slice of pizza disappeared. It gave me free time; time I should be spending on the employee espionage case, but sorting through telephone records and emails didn’t appear on my list of things I wanted to do; binging a show did.

Before I found the one I wanted, my phone rang. For someone who apparently had no friends and no life, I sure had a lot of interruptions.

“Hi, Leigh,” I said after checking the caller ID.

“Hey, Charity.” She sounded overly cheerful. When Leigh, the police officer, called, it was more often a warning to stay away from something or a scolding for having done something. I didn’t think Leigh the police detective would be much different. “Listen, I called because I heard you’re at loose ends right now. I thought we could go out for a drink sometime. Maybe tomorrow?”

I sighed. “Who put you up to managing my social life?”

“Busted. Let’s hope I’m better at lying to suspects than I am to anyone else. Lu said you might turn into a hermit.”

Would that be bad?

“Why won’t they let me be? I have recovered from breakups before.”

“I don’t know you that well, but if I had to guess, this one is different. I didn’t even know you had a boyfriend. But since he ended it, you haven’t bothered me for help, or needed me to get you out of a jam.”

If even Leigh could see there was a problem, maybe I was in denial. Then again, maybe I was only being independent.

“For the record, I ended it.” Not exactly the truth, but I felt better with the lie. “Okay, drinks tomorrow. Where?”

“You know Pourhouse down on Water?” she asked.

“At seven?”

“Good enough. I have an opportunity you might be interested in.”

It wasn’t that late, and I didn’t want to wait until tomorrow. “How about in an hour instead?”

Leigh hesitated and that got me worried. “Okay, I’ll make some arrangements. See you there.”

Arrangements? Was this some kind of trap? Had I crossed a line lately? If the cops wanted me, they knew where I lived. I know, paranoia is not a great character trait, at least not when I’m between cases.

I was wearing jeans and an old sweatshirt since the only thing I planned was a night at home. I briefly considered not changing, but realized I’d end up being more uncomfortable than if I wore something more appropriate. After all, if Leigh needed to ‘make arrangements’ then I could make an effort.

A quick shower, some dressier black pants and green silk tank under a sheer pullover made me look like I might be worthy of a date. I didn’t do full makeup, but a bit of blush, mascara, and lipstick helped me look alive.

I hated to admit it, but getting ready made me feel some enthusiasm for the event. I called a taxi because I didn’t want to spoil the effect by walking the twenty minutes to the bar.