Introducing J.P. Choquette and her book Subversion – check out her guest post and extract.
Thanks for offering to share a bit of information with your readers about Subversion, Lynzie. I appreciate it greatly! Tatum “Tayt” Waters, the main character in this mystery novel is spunky, sarcastic and always seems to find her way into trouble. Though she’s only 29, she has her own cleaning business and is transitioning into another full-time business, providing security at events or for individuals. On the side though, Tayt often helps people who have been failed by the justice system through “Sunflower Specials.”
This scene is taken from an early part in the book, when Tayt is contacted by an abused wife, Mary Ann, seeking retribution against her husband, Walter Hawk.
Mary Ann Hawk is tiny and bird-like and does have the dark hair and wrinkles I expected but not the angry eyebrows. Instead, her eyebrows are nearly invisible, almost plucked to extinction. I order coffees for both of us, and we sit at a table with a view of the street.
“I got me a problem with my husband, Walter. I told you that on the phone,” she says. “He’s a maniac. A crazy man. And when he gets to drinkin’ …” she leaves the sentence unfinished, staring intently at the large windows as though her estranged husband is watching from the street. And what do I know? He could very well be.
“So, Mrs. Hawk. Mary Ann. Is it OK to call you that?”
She nods, twisting the thin curtain between clenched fingertips.
“Your husband, Mr. Walter Hawk, has a history of abusing you.”
“Yeah. If you can call nearly killin’ me abuse, then yeah. I almost died that last time,” she laughs, a deep, dry sound. “He messed me up so good that it took me weeks to recover. Thought I might not for a while there, but here I am.”
Her fingers strangle the paper napkin. I nod, make a note on my paper.
“How’s all this work, anyway?” she asks, looking at me. “My friend said that you take on these special jobs, Sunflower Specials, she called ‘em. Said you can track people down, make ‘em pay for what they done.”
I nod, hoping my wig stays in place.
“Are you familiar with Iranian law?” I ask.
Mary Ann nods, then shrugs. “Not really. I guess not.”
“In Iran it’s called Capital Punishment. The law states that the victim of a crime, or the victim’s family, if the victim is deceased, is responsible for exacting punishment on the criminal. Not on their own, but as part of a legal process.”
Mary Ann’s eyes brighten.
I continue, “Say for instance that a man is killed in a street fight. After a legal trial where the perpetrator is convicted, the victim’s family will be the ones at the hanging, responsible for pushing the chair out from under the murderer.”
“Pffft,” Mary Ann says, squinting her eyes at me. “So you’re sayin’ you’ll bring, what, bring Walter to me? No offense, but that ain’t gonna do me an ounce of good. You think if I could kick his ass, I’d have let him kick mine so many times?” Mary Ann pauses for her first sip of coffee. Her skinny arm shakes slightly.
“That’s where I come in,” I say, lowering my voice further. “Think of me as your sort of rented family. I’ll see that Walter is punished. My job in these cases,” I’m whispering now and Mary Ann leans closer to me, so close that I can see every pore in her nose, “is to make sure that the punishment fits the crime.”
“And then you just go along your merry little way?” she says. Her breath smells like coffee
“I do have two rules in regards to Sunflower Specials,” I say, tapping the table with a nail to enunciate each. “The first is that the perpetrator actually is a perpetrator. I’m not going to go around scooping up innocent people for psychopaths,” I take a sip of my drink. “No offense.”
“None taken. I can get you court papers, photos of me from the hospital if that’s what you want.”
“That is exactly what I’m looking for,” I say, leaning back in my chair and returning my voice to a normal volume. “Once you give me those and your retainer, we can move on with your case.”
“You said you had two rules. So, what’s the second?”
“I get paid in cash, half up front and half when I deliver. No checks, no credit cards, no IOUs.”
“How much is a job like this gonna set me back?” Mary Ann asks, taking another sip of her coffee. I tell her, and she chews her lip a while, then nods.
“I can get it to you by the end of this week.”