McCafferty’s Nine (Jake Hines)

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In the mid-size city of Rutherford, Chief of Detectives Jake Hines has all his investigators working at top speed. His People Crimes Crew is chasing a mugger whose violence is escalating towards murder. And the Property Crimes Section is clamorous with complaints from people having merchandise charged to their credit cards, even though the cards are safe in their wallets. Chief McCafferty needs help with his project, and Trudy says hers won’t wait any longer…

“…Gunn is a master at mixing straight-ahead crime-solving with multitextured domestic drama. A fine book in a fine series that belongs in every good mystery collect.”


A couple of years ago, when Trudy and I decided to live together, we bought this old farmhouse in the country, halfway between my job in Rutherford and hers in St. Paul. Whatever flaws went with the house being a hundred years old, we felt were compensated by its perfect location and beautiful big yard. But living in it for one winter showed us we weren’t tough enough to put up with wretched insulation, jury-rigged heating, and electrical wiring that dated from the Hoover administration.

By now we’d almost finished rebuilding it around ourselves, at the cost of all our disposable income for the foreseeable future. Large bank loans were not intimidating, we told each other as we signed them, since we’d agreed not to even think about marriage and a family until the repairs were paid for.

When Trudy found herself pregnant last August we switched to Plan B, which consisted mostly of statements like, “Stop crying and I’ll do anything you say.”

That was what Trudy said. What I said went something like, “Please please please please please–” followed by a string of promises. “Say you’ll have our baby,” I implored her, “and I’ll do anything. Everything. Whatever you want. We’ll get married, would you like that?”

“Well,” she said. And after a breathtaking interval, “Yes.”

Parenthood was a bigger deal for me than it was for her, because I had no family history. I was found in a Dumpster when I was a few hours old and raised in foster homes by the State of Minnesota. Till I found myself becoming one, there was no way I could know that I was born to be a father. You know that double helix thing we’ve all looked at so many times, the funny twisted ladder with our genes hanging on it? It turns out that on mine there’s one big pulsing hummer marked “Dad.”

In response to the urgings of that tiny, raging node of protein, last August I persuaded this beautiful, sexy blond, whose thriving career as a forensic scientist already kept her plenty busy, to turn herself into a vast lump of shapeless protoplasm unable to tie its own shoes. And instead of blaming me for that, getting angry and throwing soup cans at my head, this once feisty female had cocooned herself inside a chemical comfort blanket and was doing a lot of smiling and napping.

Which left nobody to do the worrying but me. I was more than taking care of the shortfall, though. I was worrying enough for Trudy and me and the rest of the Tri-State Area.


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