I leave Detective Dex Stafford, the protagonist in the second series that I write, on a pivot point at the conclusion of my current crime fiction novel, The Most Dangerous Species.
Stafford works homicide with the Kern County Sheriff's Department in Bakersfield, California. A hot, dry, dusty workmanlike city, Bakersfield sits at the lower end of California's central valley, often called the breadbasket of the nation for its wealth of agricultural products. Kern County is poor and sinking further now that oil prices are so low. Crime follows economic hardship.
Stafford worked two cases up in the mountains, the most recent one a murder in a cat rescue sanctuary. Plagued by a violent cat allergy, Stafford sniffles and sneezes his way to finding the killer.
Stafford's a city boy, feeling he's working the fast lane in Bakersfield. Holly Seabright, a village patrol officer, watches him work the cat rescue case, sometimes with amusement. Boyfriend material is scarce in Sierra Mountain Village and she likes Stafford's big, hot hands on her. She made detective once on a force in Utah, but has been sidelined by a shoulder injury. Now she works patrol, currently investigating the destruction of a local shrine. Murder trumps vandalism and she's made well aware of it.
Stafford can't imagine life in a place where there's no streetlights. No Starbucks. No movie theater. But there's Holly and whatever confusing phase of a relationship they’re in, he’s always on the edge with her. Why does she have to be so hard on him? He's not sure he likes her independence, her snarky humor.
His mother is crowding him out of his condo until she and his father get back together. She has a Jack Russell who hates Stafford, and a long- haired Persian cat who insists on sleeping in his bed. Stafford’s father went crazy in a late life crisis and briefly took up with a bimbo. Now his mother insists on being courted before she'll move back into the family home with him. When is that going to happen, Stafford wonders?
The end of one case. When he gets back to Bakersfield there’ll be another. Recently the state Attorney General began an investigation calling the Sheriff’s Department and Bakersfield PD “the two deadliest police departments in America.” Stafford is already steeling himself wondering where that will end.
If you’re curious about Detective Dex Stafford, the debut novel of the series, Payback, is found on Amazon.