Jerry Peterson
  • Male
  • Janesville, WI
  • United States
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About Me:
I am a crime writer.
I Am A:
Books And Authors I Like:
The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson

"Steppin' Out or The Return of Sam Spade" -- a short story

Did you see the movie “Night at the Museum” or read the children’s book on which the movie was based?

Exhibits come to life after the staff locks the door and goes home.

My writers group took that concept and turned it into a writing challenge for a social meeting we were to hold at Booked for Murder, our independent mystery bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin . . . “Night at the Bookstore”.

Here’s my story.

Steppin’ Out

“Let me tell you, friend, living inside a book is confining. I know, The Maltese Falcon is my home. Maybe you’ve heard of it.”

Spade tossed back a diet Sprite in the store’s stockroom. He winced and stared at the can. “Tastes like horse pee. How I miss the days when a man could smoke a cigar and drink Scotch.

“Well, you asked me what I work on when I get out at night. Let me tell you I have to hustle. We got all these hot new detectives on the block, pansies compared to me and Philip Marlowe, but still they snatch the best cases. All I’m getting are kidnappings. Like this last one, I call it the Case of the Missing Bowser.

“The other night, I’m poking through this shelf of Dennis Lehane books looking for a good bedtime story, and this little red-haired girl comes up to me and asks, ‘Are you Sam Spade?’

“I’m sure not V.I. Warshawski, I say. And she asks, can I find her her dog, says her dog’s been kidnapped, says his daddy can pay my retainer and expenses but can’t go the ransom.

“How much is it, I ask. And she says five thousand dollars.

“I whistle in disbelief and ask what dog’s worth that kind of dough? And she says, ‘Sandy. He’s my best friend.’

“Did you take this to the police, I ask. And she says, ‘They laughed at me.’

“Now, friend, heartless cops, doesn’t that make you wonder why you’re paying your taxes? Anyway, I look at her and there’s this flood of tears coming out of her eyes. How could I tell this sweet child I don’t find dogs?

“She hands me the ransom note and it says, ‘Bring five thousand dollars to the new releases display by midnight or we whack your pooch.’

“So we make a plan. It’s not the best, but it’s worked for me before. We fill a suitcase with old paperbacks, and I tell her to drag it up to the display at the appointed hour and I’d take care of the rest.

“What’s the rest, you say? I put my heater in my shoulder holster and a persuader – that’s a blackjack, friend – in my coat pocket, and I get there early. I hide between an Evanovich book and that new one by McCall Smith and I wait.

“When the clock strikes midnight, I peek out and there comes the girl hauling the suitcase, and around this table steps this big guy, really huge – looked to be eight feet tall.

“The girl recognizes him, calls him Mister Mack and asks where’s Sandy? And he says, ‘Leave the suitcase. The dog’s tied behind the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Anything
funny,’ he says, ‘and I’ll text Chuck the Chopper and he’ll chainsaw your dog into smoky links before you can get there.’

“That’s my cue. I leap out and pancake Mister Mack. Then I race to the Holmes section and ventilate The Chopper before he can fire up his chainsaw.

“The girl gets her dog, I get a payday, and, friend, it’s the Case Missing Bowser closed.”

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Jerry Peterson's Blog

Meet the real Inspector Hound

English playwright Tom Stoppard, his plays performed more than the plays of any other dramatist of his generation – and Stoppard’s still writing – is a fascinating guy. He was a newspaperman and a drama critic before he sat down to write his first play in 1960.

I became aware of him when I saw a production of his play, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.”

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are minor characters in Shakespeare’s… Continue

Posted on November 25, 2010 at 4:14am — 1 Comment

Crime trods the boards

Your community theater may be betting, as two near me are this season, that crime pays, that you and I will buy tickets and park ourselves in soft seats to see crimes committed on stage and solved.

But can we solve the crime before the detective does . . . or the amateur sleuth does?

That’s the game.

The proof that we theater goers love a mystery is right there in Agatha Chistie’s “The Mousetrap”. That stage play first hit… Continue

Posted on November 25, 2010 at 4:08am

Meet P.J. Parrish

P.J. Parrish, as a crime writer, is a powerhouse – 10 New York Times bestsellers with her Louis Kincaid thrillers, the first, “Dark of the Moon”, out in 2000; and the most recent, “The Little Death”, out just this year.

The pronoun “her” suggests Parrish is one person. She’s actually two – sisters, Kristy Montee of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Kelly Nichols of Houghton Lake, Michigan.

Montee is a former newspaper writer and editor,… Continue

Posted on September 4, 2010 at 6:27am — 1 Comment

Anniversary for a bookstore

On Saturday, Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Forest Park, Illinois kicks off a month-long celebration of its 20th anniversary.

Twenty years in the book biz!

What are the numbers? Sixty percent of start-up businesses don’t survive their first year, and 90 percent are gone before the end of their third?

So to make it 20 years, a business has to be really good.

Augie Aleksy has made Centuries & Sleuths vital… Continue

Posted on September 1, 2010 at 1:00am

Comment Wall (53 comments)

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At 3:19am on January 5, 2011, Carol Bridgestock said…

Hi Jerry! How about a Kansas officer detains someone who is wanted in London or visa versa? Bob often had to extradite people from other countries and had to send officers for them? Or they could be a prisoner on the Isle of Wight! We have Parkhurst Prison on the Island! :-)

At 7:43am on January 3, 2011, Carol Bridgestock said…

Hi Jerry,

You know who to call if you ever need any police practice from across the pond :-) Kind regards,

Carol & Bob

At 3:05am on January 3, 2011, lee caleca said…
Hey, Jerry.  Hendersonville is about 25 miles northeast of Nashville.  Known as the city by the lake.  I live out on one of the peninsulas that run into Old Hickory Lake.  The town's getting a little too populated for my taste, though.
At 7:04am on December 18, 2010, Salvatore Buttaci said…

Jerry, I am sorry it's taken me this long to accept your friendship.  I've not been back here in awhile.  Nice meeting you.

At 8:16am on October 25, 2010, Mark Stevens said…
Thanks for the connection, Jerry. Took me awhile to circle back to Crimespace; good to see it's still buzzing with activity. Cheers, Mark
At 5:30am on July 23, 2010, Darryl Johnson said…
Hi Jerry Sorry for the late respnse I'd love to be friedns and I'd love to tell you a little bout my wiritng. I want to write a littler bit of every genre because I read every genre but I'll never forget my firest love, which is mystery! I want to write best-selling private investigator novles and another baout bounty hnters. I like police porcedure, but they have to follow too many rules. I can't behave myself for an entire book...and neither can my characters. When I'm done with a manuscript let me know if you knopw any publishing comapnies.
At 12:59am on July 20, 2010, Ed M said…
Thanks for the add Jerry. Nice to meet you. :)
At 5:42am on July 15, 2010, cj forrest said…
Hello, Jerry, thank u for the invite. Hey, I’m kinda new to this whole social, web, texting, thing we do here at crimespace. I was wondering how open the forums are for answering legal questions about hypothetical crimes involving sexual assault, battery, and negligent homicide? I’m trying to authenticate my script with facts based in the real world, and I’m too broke to hire a lawyer. Thank u
At 10:32am on July 11, 2010, Russ Heitz said…
Thanks for the in-vite, Jerry. Pleezed to make your acquaintance. I was part of CrimeSpace about 4/5 years ago but had ongoing problems signing on so I dropped out for awhile, went elsewhere, to other networks. But I'm back and the sign-on seems to be working better. When I have the time I plan to look through your blog comments to see what you've been up to. Later ... Russ
At 3:25am on July 9, 2010, John A. Karr said…
Hey Jerry,

Thanks for the friend invite!


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