Archive for the ‘Speare Book 1’ Category

Chapter Ten

Posted: March 22, 2016 by Ty in Speare Book 1

If this was a television mystery show, Speare would be breaking the fourth wall. He would pull an Ellery Queen and look at the camera saying `I know what happened, do you?’ But this was not television. This was premeditated murder of three, conspiracy, possibly fraud and a creative visceral mastermind, a veritable wolf in sheep’s clothing in real life.

It was the photograph that made his Mind Palace explode. The whole approach to this affair had been wrong. It went back to his discussion with the Bishop, the church was in full support in releasing him from the vows. Jerome married him, surrendering the Saturn name, but then to throw light on a different trail go complete disclosure on his family’s ownership of the land if the congregation was to fold.

A church with no hope, that suddenly was embroiled in a media frenzy and saw a spike in giving, yet the books never left the red.

“Hasselback poisoned, the secretary shot and the alleged bludgeoning of the cleric began it all.” Speare said aloud. His interior ruminations becoming verbal much to the confusion of MacKay.

“Speare you are losing it. The bludgeoning death of Reverend Rex O’Neil is public record, the only thing in dispute was whether it was manslaughter in the commission of a robbery or murder.” MacKay retorts.

Speare shook his head and grabbed the framed photo off of the desk. “Not the method of death who was murdered. Where is O’Neil’s body?”

“Jerome had him cremated.” MacKay answered.

“Damn it.” Speare seethed. He held the photo up to MacKay. “Who do you see in the church pic?”

MacKay ran the names: Jerome (Saturn) O’Neil; Geoff Hasselback; Mrs. Lowery; “and Rex.”

Speare pops the back off the photo to reveal a date stamp. “That isn’t a pic sans the board chair, it’s a picture taken before the new minister fell in love with Saturn. That’s Harvey Gould.”

“But he looks…”

“Shave the beard off Gould or grow one, and you have the dead Reverend.” Speare finished.

“Shit on a stick.” MacKay swipes his phone on to dispatch and barks orders.

  • * * * *

Sax tossed the Sun to Speare. “Sorry man the Sunshine girls do nothing for me.”

“Finally batting for my team Speare?”

“No, I prefer women I can actually converse with and touch.”

“It wasn’t the sports spread I was wanting you to see, look on the front page.” Sax stated.

Speare had dropped into Sax’s book shop to pick up the new Robert J. Sawyer sci-fi thriller set in Canada and focused on Philosophical Zombies and psychopaths. His bill was residing with the bankruptcy trustee from St. Andrew’s since the new broke.

Gould & Saturn-O’Neil had been picked up at Gould’s home making a break for it. Finger printing revealed Gould was the defrocked father, and Saturn-O’Neil sung about the whole plan. A simple case of embezzlement, and then to secure the bankruptcy so they could reap the multi-million dollar land sale for some new un needed big box concept store and head off into the sunset in Latin America.

Well as the paper said, it won in one regards as the congregation has folded due to insolvency. The monies have still not been recovered. The only thing Speare got out of the case is that William MacKay at the press conference thanked a private investigator turned informant for a key clue that led to the arrests, provided closure for the families of the victims.

“Well that is one thing in life that is true.”

“What’s that Speare?”

“No good deed gets paid on time and for the full bill.”

Sax just laughed and shook his head. “Yea, and we’re not a library, that’s a $1 plus GST for the paper mate.”

The End



Chapter 9

Posted: March 20, 2016 by Ty in Speare Book 1
Tags: , ,

Speare stood in the church office with his hands behind his back and zip tied. He was astounded, was the only word that came to his mind. How could Detective MacKay take one phone call and then decide to arrest him.

As the two constables left the office, MacKay motioned for them to leave Speare. Was this what old crime noir’s called the beat down? Was MacKay a dirty cop? That wasn’t the word on the street, but then sometimes the grapes rotten on the grape vine, or like the telephone game in pre-school the wrong message got communicated.

MacKay slowly closed the office door. MacKay moved to each window lowering the blinds and turning the lights off. From his pocket he produced a knife that popped open in a fashion that suggested switch blade that Speare was quite certain was illegal to be carried in this country. A quick motion and the zip tie comes right off.

Speare rubbed his wrists to renew some circulation, the arresting constables had tightened the band.

“Sorry mate, that was for show.” Said MacKay. “It is not every day you wind up in the middle of a cluster fuck of this magnitude.”

Speare thought it best not to let MacKay know this was usually the type of situations he found himself in on a fairly regular basis. Especially since the arrest had been cancelled out somehow. “So what was with the you are under arrest thing?”

MacKay stroked the greying stubble on his chin. “Harvey Gould is a very powerful and wealthy man scary enough. He was mentioning he believed you actually killed the three, so show needed to be done. But currently I know that there is more to this, I mean we got a minister bludgeoned to death supposedly during a break and enter a few months back. Then an elderly church administrator shot and killed. Today we have an accountant poisoned more than likely with cyanide. So tell me why?”

Why is the immortal question? It is the root of every mystery, okay actually how and who is the root of every mystery, but the why is a close third for it unfolds as to the rationale for the murder. Right now Speare knew who was killed, and how, but the why was perplexing. It was like why in issue four of the new Jughead, all of a sudden Archie comics felt it necessary to confirm what the world already knew that being Forsythe P. Jones III was A-Sexual.

Or the anti-climax of an Easter Sunday church service 2000 years on that announces Jesus resurrects.

But hey, that was digression, for now Speare needed to process what was known. Rex O’Neil supposedly was killed, Jerome his spouse alluded that it may be a hate crime, yet Bishop Paul was in full support of the transfer (defrocking) and marriage. Mrs. Lowery encouraged him to follow the money before she died, and he found the accountant showing the defrauding of the flock and the vanishing of the “O” file. Before he keeled over, yet who would have access to the almond coffee creamer to cover up the cyanide? And was Hasselback the actual target of the poisoning or was it someone else…

Even scanning back on the rumours around the affair that brought Rex here, it was a bit of a shock that Jerome would…the picture on the desk of the couple.

“Shit. MacKay I know what happened.”


Jerome O’Neil threw a curve ball into the motive department by being so open about the lease holding and what he stood to gain from St. Andrew’s dissolution. The hard part now was to figure out if it was the 1%’s chance at misdirection within the investigation, or directing Speare away from the red herring and onto the right path. But Mrs. Lowery had directed him to look into the financials of the church, which meant a visit to Geoff Hasselback the treasurer of the church or more aptly to set up an appointment at the church which is what this Saturday morning visit post men’s group breakfast was all about.

The office had not changed in the past few days since Speare had been hired, it was obvious in the hallway leading in that the janitor had not repaired the cut pieces of flooring of the areas dusted for prints which probably would be about as useful as DNA testing a hotel room bed. But it was showing the police were going through the motions on trying to solve the who dunnit, even if there wasn’t much to go on in the case of the church secretary shooting and they had deemed the minister’s murder accidental and case closed yet it appeared both were tied together now.

Geoff was a sweater, not one that enjoyed wearing the apparel deemed such, rather he sweated profusely, and the yellowing of his shirts proved it. Speare fought the desire to offer up a body spray to quell the body odour permeating the small office space. The balding middle aged man was seated on the couch with file folders open, that from the sheer volume of numbers and black/red ink were tax records and financials for the church.

Speare quickly looked at the last number for the last 3 years, bright red ink into almost six figures. “Geoff, how does the church burn through this much money?”

It was a valid question, yes there was a ministerial salary, yes there was cost of utilities and up keep, yet that was still a staggering amount of money. Speare’s eyes moved to the salary column, before O’Neil’s arrival, the pulpit was vacant and staffed by volunteers. Since his arrival, he had been at a ¼ time salary rate.

Geoff started to sweat more if that was possible. “Well, uhm…” There was a stack of 3 inch binders labelled combined board meeting minutes.

“So if I was to read all those minutes,” please God let Geoff tell the answer Speare prays quickly for reading meeting minutes was about as thrilling as a Christian erotica novel, “will they show me where the money went…keeping in mind I will be billing the church each excruciating hour of my slow reading ability.”

First time Speare noted Geoff had a white ceramic mug of coffee he was drinking from. His fingers were tinged yellow from cigarettes. Obviously a heavy smoker. “Gould handled expenditures, I just co-signed, never asked questions. I tried to look more into the personnel file for O’Neil and the entire O directory is gone from our files.” He is dabbing a sweat on his brow with his shirt sleeve now. His breath is getting shallower, it is when the stronger aroma hits Speare’s nostrils. Almonds.

“Shit.” His left hand swings out knocking the cup of coffee across the office shattering through the office window, as Geoff pitches forward convulsing.

His flip phone clears his pocket and Speare hits 911. “Ambulance.” He answers the questions of the dispatched tersely but quickly as he struggles to role the sweaty body into the recovery position. There is promises the ambulance is en route. He states he believes it is a cyanide poisoning.

And wait for the sirens to be heard. This is not going to help the city police service’s thoughts around him, being around the church with another body. Literally speaking to the person when the decided to pitch off. But maybe it would be enough now for the police to actually dig deeper into the padre’s death and not just right it off as misadventure in robbery.

That is unless Speare was right, and the murder of the minister was misdirection.

Detective MacKay came in with the ambulance, basically a formality as the time it took them to arrive Geoff had stopped moving and breathing. MacKay made Columbo look put together.

“You again Speare. What the hell is it with you and bodies?”

Speare laughed, the steely glare made Blue Steel of Zoolander lame. Obviously MacKay was not one to be joked with when it came to body counts climbing in his case load. But it was Speare’s default, he did not like bodies, especially not ones that died in front of him by means of a circa 1930’s pulp mystery novel.

“The board of this church hired me a few nights back to look into what they saw as the murder of their minister.” MacKay arched an eyebrow. Speare pulled the wrapper off a black licorice sucker and placed it in his mouth as he continued. The plastic shoved into his jeans’ pocket. His eye catches the almond flavoured creamer next to the almost empty coffee pot, since the end of the breakfast, Hasselback had almost gone through an entire pot of coffee on his own with creamer. Another reason Speare knew to avoid flavoured creamers.

“Since then, the church secretary and now treasurer have been offed. The entire O section of their directory is missing, possibly lifted before this all began, or on the night that Ms. Lowery was killed. Today I was meeting with Geoff here, as Ms. Lowery had told me to follow the financials. So I did to the treasurer.”

MacKay glanced at the open files on the coffee table. He noted the large amounts in red ink that didn’t seem to total with the numbers in the debit column. “They do a lot of benevolent aid out of this church?”

“Ah not just an Irish name, were you an altar boy to?”

“Fuck you Speare.” Speare could tell by the look in the detective’s eye that if he hadn’t been on duty that comment would have very likely earned him a sock in the jaw. Obviously it was not a relationship with the established church that had ended well for this man. “So you going to put your card on the table or should I take you in?”

“Not many cards Detective. I am just trying to piece this puzzle together myself, same as you. The church is dying, there is a huge amount of borrowed money leaving the building; three people are dead; there is some weird alluded to agreement when the congregation folds the land goes back into the Saturn Estate, whom Jerome is a beneficiary, he’s the widow. For some reason I dislike the combined board chair, Gould, but don’t know why.”

“So why not just say its Jerome sounds like a good motive for chaos to me.”

“Except detective that Jerome told me about the land deal, and he really didn’t have to because no one else appears to know about it.”

MacKay nods. “Seems I should speak with Gould then.” MacKay walks out to the desk of the receptionist, there is a church directory he flips open and dials a number out of it.

“Hello Mr. Gould this is Detective MacKay I am at your church with a man who claims you hired him, his name is Speare. Is that so, well thank you if you could come here that would be great.”

MacKay hangs up the phone and motions for the two constables that just walked in.

“Speare, if that is your real name, you are under arrest.”




Chapter Seven

Posted: February 20, 2016 by Ty in Speare Book 1
Tags: , , ,

There are some things in life that come as twists and shocks. Agatha Christie was the queen of the Red Herring’s in her murder mysteries. Robert Knott recently in Robert B. Parker’s Black Jack unveiled the flamboyant pirate bounty hunter Valentine Pell, half-brother of Virgil Cole or the fact that Warner Brother’s thought it was a good idea to have Superman kill in his Man of Steel Movie circa 2013.

As Speare walked up the walk to the luxury condo seeking O’Neil’s widow these are things that ran through his mind. A quick scroll through unit numbers and a connection Jerome buzzes Speare in. The lobby is done in the post-modernist warehouse chic that is the current rage as he makes his way to the elevator and up to the penthouse.

The view from the condo windows is of the downtown scape, framed nicely by mountains and river. The room is back lit and far to much steel and concrete to feel warm. There are tapestries one would assume cost a fortune, yet none of this was adding up within Speare’s mind.

“You are probably wondering how we came to afford this opulence.”

“Your word Jerome not mine, but it does stand to reason when the new husband was from the priesthood.” Speare stated.

Jerome chuckled. “I am from the Saturn family. Yes do not look shocked those who once upon a time were vacation friends with Rockefellers and Carnegies. Our money, is the money that has put all this together. St. Andrew’s is just one jewel in the crown if you will.”

Speare scratched under the eye patch, every so often the phantom pain would act up on his missing eye. One day he may actually remember what happened to the eye that could be the day he would truly know who he was fully. That day would not be today. For today he needed to focus on the person in front of him who had just made a statement that had left him dumbfounded.

“So, your attachment to St. Andrew’s has nothing to do with faith in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost?”

“Do I look like that fool Ms. Lowery or Gould? I understand the investment my family has made on a rather valuable piece of real estate. The congregation is literally dying off, and the initial investment of the cornerstone oh those many years ago from my family came with a clause.”

A clause, now it was playing out interesting. “Why tell me this? It looks like it gives you a good reason to want to kill your husband.”

“Please Speare let us not insult both our intelligences. Scotch?”


There is a snap of fingers and a grey haired man, whom Speare only assumes is British because well most butlers in mysteries are British, brings him a vermillion mug a warm cup of black coffee, from the smell it was more expensive than Folger’s but probably wasn’t worth the extra cost. Speare takes a sip, as Jerome pours himself two fingers of Scotch over ice. The newly revealed wealth takes a sip.

They are standing in the living room, Jerome motions for Speare to sit on a leather couch by a gas powered fire place, Speare takes the seat and Jerome sits in a leather recliner sipping his drink.

“A simple clause, when the church closes, the property reverts back to my family for ownership. If there are no surviving members of the family, then well it reverts I am not sure where the money will go.”

“All I am hearing from you Jerome is motive.”

“But then why would I share it with you.” That was a good question, if Jerome was guilty of the murders trying to make a land grab why he would share it with Speare? “Keep tilting at windmills, Speare, I want to know who killed my husband.”







Chapter Six

Posted: February 15, 2016 by Ty in Speare Book 1

The shooting death of Mrs. Lowery at St. Andrew’s United Church was not just front page news in the city, it also led the national news of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, and other private national news stations. The previous mysterious death of the church’s minister was but a footnote on the murder of this elderly church secretary. As Speare watched the coverage he noted the homophobia that still did not make the other killing as big of a story as it should be.
The challenge now however was how does an investigator reconcile two murders in one location without thinking they were connected, so of course he would not make that amateurish mistake. The question is how are they connected? Speare scratches at his stubble, it would be best to head over to the crime scene and see what he can pick up for information off of the police as they investigate.
The bus ride was short first thing in the morning, but crowded and he was fairly certain the person whose arm pit he was stuck next to had neither showered nor used deodorant in the morning before leaving for work. Sipping on an XL large Double Double, Speare exits the bus and walks up the three blocks to St. Andrew’s. The boxy white building almost blended in with the prairie landscape, if not for the bright yellow crime scene tape, and black & white vehicles with lights on around the building.
The crime scene techs in their Tyvek suits were around the back entrance door checking for clues. The lead investigator was looking a stereotypical Columbo want to be. Speare took a gulp of coffee, stepped under the tape and up to the trench coat. “Hello, name’s Speare, the church hired me to look into the murder of their minister a few months back and…”
“So then why are you here polluting my crime scene.” The body of Mrs. Lowery was still in the entrance way, she was covered with a tarp to keep the media from snapping shots of her for more news play, but the lead investigator was grumpy.
Before Speare could attempt to win him over with charm, his cell phone buzzed. “You got Speare.” The voice on the other end was visibly shaken but familiar.
“Speare, I need to speak with you when can you get to my home.”
“Yes, the news about Mrs. Lowery is rather—shocking, and I need to speak with you.” The widow of the first victim, but it is starting to look almost serial within this small spiritual community. The detective is now focusing on Speare on the phone.
His gravelly voice interrupts. “Hey who are you talking to dick?”
Speare steps back under the yellow tape as he keeps talking to Jerome O’Neil. The address of his home was important, and the neighbourhood that he would be heading to was one of the swankier districts within town. A luxury condo, one of those high end ones that recently had moved beyond having parking available and for their price tag included life time memberships in a local car share corporation.
As Speare hangs up and heads back towards the bus, he hears the lead investigator’s oxford soles slapping on the asphalt trying to catch up to him. The phone call had piqued his curiosity about what Speare could know.
Speare chuckled to himself as he slowly turned around. “Can I help you?”
“Yes, who the hell was that?”
“A customer, now I am off to make a living.” Stated Speare as he left. It was never good to tick off the constabulary but in this instance there could be some good information shared by the widow, and without that this may not make any sense what so ever. He listened would the cop waste the time to pursue and arrest or…the sound of a loud harrumph and disparaging Speare’s occupation as he went back to the church to continue looking into the murder, Speare was onto a city bus and bound for the O’Neil luxury condo, which also raised other questions.
Just how did they swing that palace?
And more importantly what did the killing of a defrocked reordained minister and a tea granny secretary have to do with one another? Or was he simply tilting at windmills?

Chapter Five

Posted: February 15, 2016 by Ty in Speare Book 1

Mrs. Lowery was the only person at the church Tuesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.. Usually the minister would be around as well, except for the tiny little murder thing three months ago. There was a desk top, and while they worked on creating electronic documents for the Sacraments, she still had a manual type writer to enter the names on the certificates in the wall wrap around desk.
Three womb chairs were placed in front of the desk for those waiting, and behind sliding white doors (floor to ceiling, about five of them) is where they hid office supplies; the all in one copier monstrosity; and the filing cabinets with the historic church rolls.
In the corner was a small coffee table with coffee maker, cups, creamer and sugar, it saved the walk back through the winding hallway to and from the kitchen that was located just off the sanctuary. The coffee was almost done percolating when the church’s doorbell rang. In this new world one could not be too safe. One could not just leave the church constantly unlocked like in a black and white movie. Insurance companies did not like unlocked buildings, and too many riff raff in Mrs. Lowery’s opinion would wander through the building from the local schools and food banks if the doors were unlocked. Reverend O’Neil disliked her stance and on more than one occasion she would have to follow him around the building relocking the doors after he had unlocked them.
The woman who dressed in long skirts, white blouses, and drab cardigans rose from behind her desk and walked the short span to the building’s back door, a mere 6 feet from the office, and just by the public washrooms. The door was a classic metal door, with half being frosted safety glass. All Mrs. Lowery could make out was the form of a man. “Hello, how may I help you?”
The voice on the other side was grumbly and gruff. “Open the door, my key is not working.”
“Why do you have a key?”
“Because I sign your pay cheques woman!”
Mrs. Lowery shakes her head at the statement. “Oh Mr. Hasselback, you keep forgetting the new key code, we moved away from keys two years ago.” She pushes the fire door back and opens the door.
The form looks at her and smiles.
“Oh my you’re not Mr. Hasselback.”
“No, good day my dear.” A quick rapport of a .38 gun and Mrs. Lowery goes on to paradise. The form steps through the doorway and moves into the office. If the local school was any judge of character he had maybe two minutes before a nosey teacher or custodian would phone police.
Two minutes to locate what he needed to keep the secret.
Using leather gloved hands he slid the sliding doors open in the office to where the filing cabinet is. His hand moves to the O drawer and pulls out a file, he flips it open, deftly removing one piece of paper. The paper is folded and placed within his jacket. The file folder closed, returned to the drawer, drawer closed, sliding door slid shut. Forty-five seconds as he steps over Mrs. Lowery’s body, closes the back door and gets into his small black hatchback, leaving the church building.
Ninety seconds from gunshot to exit to main road and the sirens are heard. Thirty seconds faster response time than he expected, but still enough time to get away.

Chapter Four

Posted: February 15, 2016 by Ty in Speare Book 1

The book store window contained rare first editions of the type of titles one would have on their bookshelf whether or not they read them simply to impress the dinner party crowd. Speare didn’t have dinner parties, closest he came was Grey Cup potlucks.

He scratched at the greying whiskers on his chin as he stepped in, like something out of a 1980’s movie, the front door has the jingle bells above that announce his entry. Directly to the left is a till and counter, a few feet to the right is a spiralling staircase to a second floor. First floor was fiction and children’s books, up the stair case was where the purveyor of the store kept non-fiction and graphic novels.

The owner actually looked like a middle aged leprechaun. Thankfully, Billy Sax detested the colour green so he refused to wear it. But as he moved towards the latter half of his forties he was growing to enjoy the leisure suit resurgence. Even if that resurgence happened back when he was barely a sparkle in his parent’s eyes.

“Speare what do I owe the pleasure?” Sax said.

“What Mon ami, you are Hawk to my Spenser, Watson to my Holmes…”

“Jughead to your Archie?”

“No Billy, seriously I’m Jughead, you can have the dramedy that is Archie.” Speare said. The eternal debate what is a better archetype, the asexual foodie or the archetype of teen puberty eternally seeking meaning through not choosing a path of life found in the archetypes of happily ever after that are Betty and Veronica.

“Seriously though man, if I am Hawk, well, I would suggest going to wherever one hires goons, and investing in some good ones, because I sell books and it isn’t a cover for being a super spy or tough guy.” Sax said.

“But is the pen not mightier than the sword my mystery writer?” Speare stated.

Sax stroked his reddish whitening beard, leaning onto the counter and off the bar stool he sat on behind. It was actually amazing with the low traffic the store got that Sax was able to keep it open, but Speare never questioned someone pursuing a dream to make a life. How many would think he was nuts for being a private eye? “As we have seen in some of, I guess you would say, our adventures it has proven to be such. But, and yes you knew there was going to be a but I do not think our usual pre-coffee verbal joust is what brought you in today.”

“Would you believe the new Jughead?”

“No, you picked it up three days ago.” Sax retorts.

Speare chuckles. He idly flips through a new Jesse Stone novel, another of Robert B. Parker’s mystery series’ creations. Created as Parker wanted to explore writing a series from a third person perspective. Where Spenser was a knight in shining armour, a true Superman of private eyes with his partner Hawk, the Batman of the mystery novel genre. Well Jesse Stone was a recovering/not wanting to recover alcoholic-small town police chief seeking redemption whose tales spun closer to Joseph Campbell’s Heroes Journey theory than an Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie who done it.

“Okay my current events junkie of a sidekick.”

“You wound me Speare lowering me to Robin, for your third rate Batman wanna be.” Sax said, “alas thou doeth speaketh the truth. What current event are we seeking discernment on?”

Speare puts the book back on the shelf, his good eye glances over to the Clive Cussler section, the Dirk Pitt adventures he always enjoyed, especially looking for how Cussler would create a cameo to aid the hero in each story. Probably where Marvel movies got the idea for the Stan Lee cameo’s in each movie, only difference being that Cussler played himself so it was more of the “god entering into the story” motif. “The creepy old buggars that run St. Andrew’s U hired me to find out who offed their padre.” Speare noted he would need to work on speaking tough guy more easily so it rolled off his tongue sounding natural. The banter was possibly the hardest part of the job.

Sax’s belly laugh started in his toes, and was probably how Santa Clause sounded on a Christmas Eve run. “Ah yes those buggars. They still owe me quite a pretty some, but why take the money?”

That was the hardest part to explain out loud Speare found. Explaining why he felt the need to solve the mystery in the first place, it wasn’t simply because he had a knack for connecting the dots, because as Sax had phrased it: adventures, did not always involve a body. Sometimes it was artifacts, monies or missing folks. But this was a good old fashion who killed him. Not as technical as a locked room but close.

“Because someone is dead, and there needs to be justice.” Speare stated plainly.

Sax removed his half spectacles and pinched the bridge of his nose as he chose the next words to leave his mouth. “Yet if I remember correctly it was blamed on a robbery. The police are seeking the unknown assailant. Where do you come in?”

Speare moved his way to peer over into the window display, picking up a copy of a Louis L’amour book. A first edition, but it was a western pot boiler that showed his own swash buckling from the Great American Western frontier. Speare puts it back down. “That is a good question. At first since the good pastor started as a Catholic priest I checked the obvious.”

“Ah Bishop Paul quite a lot more progressive than you would think. So that did not pan out what are you thinking? The husband possibly?”

“I was thinking that Billy, yet it seems far too obvious and cliché. There was three men at the table, and one nice old lady.”

“Arsenic and Old Lace tells us that you have to watch out for those tea grannies, they have a mean streak and will bury you.” Sax said.

Speare smiled, his scars moved in a way that if there was sound it would be like old creasing leather. “Never thought of Mrs. Lowery being the doer, but then all the information isn’t in. No what I am looking for is information you may have around St. Andrew’s. Seriously as quiet as this place can be, you are a better gossip mill than the local pubs of this burg.”

Sax moves in an aw shucks shrug, not arguing the vantage point that he tended to hear more than anyone outside of probably a priest in the pre-Vatican II confessional closets. It was amazing what people would talk with each other about while wandering around looking for new reading material. Sax may not be the muscle of a Hawk, but he blended into the background enough to be a great gather of information.

“Who are we looking at?”

From his coat inside pocket Speare pulls out a small notebook and flips it open. “Well the Board Chair is Harvey Gould, finance is Geoff Hasselback, and the widow is…”

“Jerome O’Neil.” Sax finished the list, “he is also past chair, and auditor of St. Andrew’s. His family has a long history at that church, they were the ones that literally purchased the cornerstone.” Speare looked mildly impressed, but it was nothing more one could not locate with a strong Google search. There had to be something else brewing, although knowing that Jerome’s family went that far back at St. Andrew’s.

“Soooo… what do we know about the other two?” Speare said.

“Not so much. But I will open up my ears, as you begin the search. Anything else useful?”

Speare absent mindedly twirled a rack of bookmarks as he pondered the question. There was information he had gathered from the tea lady at the church, and from Bishop Paul in regards to the send of Rex had been given from the Cathedral. Yet it more excluded thoughts of what could’ve happened than created an idea of what did happen. “It is a story of a man with a calling from God, but then breaking an earthly institutional law and fell in love. Yet there is a story of acceptance, that saw his community celebrate his loss of vocation in finding love and resettlement with a new sacred community of love and acceptance. All seemed well, hell, from all reports this passionate preacher and community builder renewed a dying community and got St. Andy’s re-engaged with the community the building was falling apart in. Then one dark and stormy night, he allegedly surprises someone burglaring for the offertory and his life is ended. This new vibrant space can’t even pay to have the carpet cleaned properly to remove signs of his blood. Which leave me to…”

“Wonder where the money is that should’ve been able to replace those carpets, and why a burglar who had multiple exits out of the sanctuary felt the need to whack the good reverend?” Sax finished.


Chapter Three

Posted: February 15, 2016 by Ty in Speare Book 1

It is true what they say defaulting to the answer of “aliens” does just make life simple. Just like the church to go back to is not the one where the body was found cold, but where the blood of the body burned hot for a new lover. St. Peter’s Cathedral was a half block sand stone gothic architecture church building. A shining beacon of Roman Catholicism, with church bells that would ring exactly five minutes after the hour and half hour of the spire clock. Enough to drive the OCD types postal.
Speare scratched the stubble of his chin as he ascended the 14 cobble stone stairs to the front door. Solid oak, supposed to look imposing, but in the afternoon light resembled something more of a Monty Python prop. Google was the modern day private eye’s friend. Through that Speare had located O’Neil’s Linkedin profile that showed before defrocking he had been the priest in charge at the Cathedral.
His good eye looks at the Mass times sign, Reconciliation was held in about five minutes. Speare opens the door and steps into the Narthex, the Holy Water fountain is the first thing he connects with. “When in Rome.” Speare dips his fingers into the water and makes the sign of the Cross as he steps into the sanctuary area, to the left there is a small room. The church post Vatican II had moved away from the stereo typical confessional booths, to more like tea rooms where the parishners and priest could sit to discuss redemption from sins real or imagined.
Weekday Mass brought a small but faithful group of older ladies huddled at the front of the Sanctuary saying the Rosary, contemplating the mysteries of faith while Speare moved into the room and took a seat to await the new priest in charge, for he knew it would be fool hardy to expect Bishop Paul to be on deck for such matters.
Speare had to smile for in between the two wing back chairs sat a small table, and on the table was two tea cups and a pot of steeping tea. Quite the literalists within this church. Never to pass up a warm beverage Speare pours himself a cup and takes a seat.
A gruff harrumph from the entrance. The portly man with the thinning white hair, red complexion, gasping uncomfortably through his nose dressed in the black suit of the priest. “Well I will be damned the Bishop is home.” Speare said.
Bishop Paul tugs at his black shirt as he closes the door and takes the empty seat by Speare. “Thinking of converting my child?”
“Now padre, we both know my unrepentant heresies would keep me not only out of communion with the Holy See, but could very likely cause you to burst into flames.”
The laugh from the Bishop is a deep one that authentically begins in the belly. “True, Mr. Speare, how may I help you aside from drinking my tea?”
Speare smirks and takes a sip of the tea, chamomile, quite the blend to bring about a conversation of Reconciliation. “I must admit that you guys know how to create the mood for this whole sacrament thing.”
“Sacrament thing, hard to believe at one point you were a lay minister.” Paul said.
“Not my fault that no one fact checked my allegiances before consecration.” Speare chuckles, and Paul shares the laugh. “But more seriously I am here about something that happened roughly 3 months ago.”
“Reverend O’Neil’s mysterious death.”
Another gulp of tea, there is a form that Speare can make out through the stain glass in the doorway. A true parishner awaiting reconciliation with their God in the sky who looks like Charlton Heston possibly, through the great mediation of the Bishop. It was a clear sign for Speare to pick up the tempo of the dance for information, as much fun as it was to kibitz with one of his former spiritual directors.
“The board of the United Church has hired me to look into his murder.” Speare always feels that after a statement like that he should play his own thriller music sound track for proper effect. The Bishop’s gave does not shift, and there is no extra sweat or other tell-tale signs that he had wished O’Neil unwell or would have actively sought out his extermination.
Paul pours himself his own cup of tea and takes a sip before providing an answer, almost seems to ponder the word choice like one might in a philosophical debate on who is the greatest sports team: Montreal Canadiens or New York Yankees. But that is a deeper theological issue than murder. “John the Baptist had it right in regards to some religious being nothing more than a nest of vipers. I tried to warn Rex about that when he fell in love with Jerome. I encouraged him to remember his vows, and failing that to keep it quiet, but the heart wants what the heart wants as Rex told me. We released him from his vows to pursue love, and in spite of what many may think, did not persecute. Hell, our women’s league made him his vestments for the new church, and the men’s group built the fence for their new house. But…” There is always a but in stories such as these.
“But… There was a darkness in that home that even our prayers could not keep out.” Paul paused for effect. “I am not going to even waste our collective air in hear digressing on theological issues, or denominational brand bull shit, please don’t let the women’s league know I use such language.” Another large belly laugh, followed by a gulp of tea this time. “There was something ill in that church as a whole, they have cycled through 10 pastors in 7 years that is a record I do believe. Yet it almost felt like a head hunting expedition into our pulpit by Jerome to get Rex, and once he had him.”
Interesting theory, in moment’s like this Speare wished he carried a notebook to write things down. “Well Bishop, you know the official story”
Paul nodded. “Yes we do. Scandal and intrigue gets internet hits and sells ad space, and papers. But truth is we ended our relationship on good terms. We were saddened to hear of his death three months ago, and sadly my first inclination was to wonder how much his life was worth to that dying group of people.”
The money question again. How much would a dead minister be worth to a church? Very much connecting with what Mrs. Lowery was trying to share. Speare sipped the last of his tea. “Shot in the dark, is there any one a bit off in your congregation that may have not been so progressive in thought?”
Paul shrugs upwards. “I can cop out and state seal of the confessional, but really, no, there was no hard feelings at his transition out.”
With that Speare ends the conversation, and lets the lady waiting outside of the doors in to reconcile her own sins. There needed to be one more stop before returning to the now cold scene of the crime, and that was to get a broader perspective on the issue, and possibly some muscle as things might turn nasty.

Chapter Two

Posted: February 15, 2016 by Ty in Speare Book 1

Casablanca droned on in the background as Speare poured his fourth cup of coffee in the hour. It had been a long morning leaving little to the imagination on what was to come in the future for him. His throwback flip phone laid on the kitchen table waiting a text or call from his long term friend—colleaugue—partner in crime, what was nom de plume for one such as Sax?

On the coffee table resting on top of well-read Jughead comics; Sherlock Holmes and Robert B. Parker novels was an even more well-worn Bible cracked open to the Gospel section. It was interesting that the church would seek out a defrocked minister to search out the murderer of their minister, one who wasn’t even sure if he could believe the mythologies spun within the pages of a collection of books that brought comfort in times of crisis.

The church lady Jane had confirmed what Speare believed before leaving the scene of the possible crime. As Rick speaks to Sam at the piano on the television, the phone vibrates. Speare flips it open.

“Speare.” Silently he curses the need for a cell phone, how he hated the idea of being reachable constantly for the world. Who ever thought that the average citizen was as important as a doctor? Someone who’s every moment needed to be reachable because it would be life and death, although it was cheaper than a landline which was sad in and of itself.

The familiar fog horn of the newest phone scam is heard, Speare flips his phone closed. Another vibration, a simple text with an unknown number:

12th and 8th Coffee Shop. Look for the red hat.

Some days you search hard for clues, other days the magic elves bring it across your cell phone screen. Today was a four cup of coffee, magic elves bring it across your cell phone kind of days, like discovering Jughead’s Time Police for the first time as a child.

Speare grabs his leather bomber coat and pulls it on over top of his black hoody and exits the simple one bedroom apartment. Time to hunt for a red hat, the coffee shop is just three blocks away, so whomever is trying to reach him also knows where he lives, which is a whole other level of creepy in this mystery solving venture, but that is all a matter of perspective.

The diner is a throwback, looks like something out of the 1960’s greasy spoon’s even down to the first name: Harold’s. Speare strokes the greying whiskers growing in on his scarred face as he steps inside. There are what appears to be 12 trades person types at the counter eating lunch, the booths are along the outside walls, mostly empty, except for a red hat bobbing in the far right corner.

Speare walks towards the hat, the brim is wide and keeping the identity of the person a secret. Speare motions to the gap toothed over the hill waiter behind the counter for a cup of coffee to the table, judging from the layer of stale grease on the countertops he would not be par taking in the food fare. Speare sits across from the hat as the cup arrives.

The wide brimmed hat rises. The elderly church lady. “Ms. Lowery, to what do I owe all the cloak and dagger gambits?”

The church lady smiles, and takes a sip of her tea. “Simple, I could not speak openly in the sanctuary.”

“Kind of ironic that one could not speak openly in the house of God?”

“Ah, you younglings and your idealism, the house of God, especially that one sold its soul for mammon long ago. It is the old story of being unable to worship two masters.” Lowery said.

“O’Neil was known as a rabble rouser for a cause.” Speare responded.

Lowery chuckled low. “We were the Reverend’s last stop. His ways had created waves in many circles as he challenged the patriarchal norms of the world in which we live. Sadly there are many things that were wrong with the stop. Not the least of which was the three bald men that called you this morning.”

If there was one thing binge watching Matlock and Murder, She Wrote had taught Speare about the deductive process it was that you listened to old people, for they glided through life unnoticed and were able to pick up all the clues the young were too busy updating their social media on their smart phones to catch.

But this lady was sitting here sipping tea in a dive neither one of them would be found in otherwise, casting aspersions on those that paid his retainer. “Why?”

“Pardon?” Lowery contorted her mouth in a twist of disgust.

“Why would they bother hiring me, to find a murderer if they were tied into it?”

“Simple, to throw you off the truth, because why would the killers hire you?” Lowery said. Speare had to admit the old lady made sense in a twisted sort of way. A second sip of his coffee confirmed that even drinking in this dive was not worthwhile, he subtly pushes the cup to the side. Lowery focuses in on the scarring, she tries to break contact with the stare when his one eye focuses in on her trifocals.

“It is okay to stare, most get distracted by my beautiful face.”

“You look like what my shitzou yakked up last night.”

“That as well is true Ms. Lowery.”

She takes a sip of the tea that in itself astounds Speare she can drink from the chipped ceramic mug. “Well aside from that I would suggest you follow the money.”

“So what are you Ms. Lowery, my deep throat?” A slap across the face is his answer. “Not the porno, from Watergate.”

“Sorry. But truly, have you looked at the financials at the church?”

“Seriously I have been on the case for all of sixty minutes. I haven’t had time to complete digest the Google search on your dead reverend, never mind to dig deeper.”

Lowery slips out of the booth, leaving a five spot on the table. “I will send a message when I have been able to copy the financials for you, the true ones, not those worthless pieces of toilet paper they present to the Annual General Meeting every year.” With that the little church lady leaves the diner.

Speare waits a few beats and hits the streets as well. The old lady was quick, for the street was empty, either that or she had parked close by. There is a low rumble in the sky. Nope, not the sky, Speare pulls out his cell phone, noting that he really should look into the ring tones available on his phone.

“Speare.” A crackle on the other end of the line. Since the systems switched from digital to analog, crackles normally didn’t happen. Usually a bad connection was simply silence. “Hellooo? If you are attempting to intimidate me, the crackling bad sci-fi thing, you may want to rethink.” Speare flips the phone closed ending the call.

He turns down 8th and heads back towards the bus stop that will take him back to the church. There is strange things happening in the city, and more importantly within that congregation, that led someone or ones to kill their reverend. At least that is the story the church lady wanted him to believe.







Chapter One

Posted: February 14, 2016 by Ty in Speare Book 1
Tags: ,


There are many clichés that become apparent to the outside world, family and friends when one becomes known to have a knack for solving unsolvable mysteries or just catching killers. It is amazing how many will make the joke to study the world’s ultimate serial killer, Mrs. Fletcher, seriously think on it, that woman was around a lot of death. Or the ultimate “in joke” of it being Colonel Mustard in the library with the wrench, the unhelpful jokes from reports of “did the butler do it?” The smart ass retort in one’s mind in these moments is to always simply say, “Aliens dude, it was the aliens.”

Discard the sucker stick into the gutter before stepping into the old church building of St. Andrew’s United Church. An elderly lady meets him at the door, offers to take his black wool ¾ coat, he declines, she leads him to the office area where three old men sit, prim and proper in suits. Sure he hadn’t been to church in a while, but even the last time he had set foot in one formality had long given up the ghost, Holy Ghost? But the three balding men in suits looked uncomfortable to have invited him into their inner sanctum. The nice lady, who looks dressed like a school marm goes through the motions offering coffee, he accepts a cup, church coffee is probably the cheapest per cup in the world, but somehow manages to taste the best.

They are seated in a “tea area” in the minister’s office. Wing back chairs, love seats, the man in the coat removes his black fedora and sits comfortably in a wing back, rests the hat on his blue jeans knee, removes leather gloves and places them in pockets. He notes one of the men staring at his black eye patch, or is it the scars that creep up his neck. “Well aren’t we a collection of light reflectors.” Subtle gasps, as his coffee arrives.

The balding man in the grey suit speaks up, he is the one in the middle of the three. “Mr. Speare, we invited you here to discuss a rather sensitive matter.”

Speare smiled, sensitive matter, another cliché of those with something to hide. A group of men calling him for a clandestine meeting in the church office, yet not one of them have identified themselves as the minister whose office they are sitting in.  The church lady keeps giving a cross eye glance back to him as well during the conversation.

Speare takes another sip of coffee while carefully studying each of the three men. The one on the speaker’s left has sweat beads forming on his bald cul de sac.  The one on the right has a steely gave, one that speaks to the probability of some point in his life having taken a life. The speaker continues. “Three months ago our minister was murdered in the sanctuary after hours. The police chalked it up to a smash and grab robbery gone awry.” Speare studies the speaker. The man has a greying mustache that barely touches the corner of his top lip.

Sweat is forming there as well, his lips purse during each statement like it is leaving a bad taste in his mouth. Why if they are seeking truth would the speaking of this search leave a bad taste in his mouth? This should be a time of speaking freedom, the cool customer has a steady gaze into the speaker’s temple, like a sniper rifle sight. The true power of the trio is there, but how to draw that out so that they know he knows where the power lies in this situation.

“I remember reading about that break in. Reverend Rex O’Neil wasn’t it?” The speaker nods, the articles Speare had read had laid out O’Neil’s fall from prominence from the Roman Catholic Church, into being clergy in the United Church after he had found love with a male parishioner. They had married and settled into this church where O’Neil could live out his calling in a theological safe home. Some had stated it was a hate crime, only in this day and age who cared who shared whose bed as long as they were consenting adults. It was easier to chock the death up to him surprising a burglar trying to get the offertory money, or whatever else could be grabbed. Again, something else that did not add up in this day and age, right after church services the money would be counted and deposited into the local bank drop box, Speare couldn’t think of any church that would keep money on hand for any length of time. Glancing around the office, the technology wasn’t of the kind that would attract a burglar either.

The calm face almost cracked around the crow’s feet when Speare showed he had some knowledge of the church minister. Cul de sac sweat started moving into a drip from beads. The speaker was looking for words. It was Speare after another sip of coffee that finally spoke. “First I am not going to be hired by 3 nameless guys in bad suits, so I needs names, second, are you hiring me to find a killer or was there something taken that day…”

On the word taken, the unshakeable one blinked. Bingo. The speaker answers first, “Mr. Speare, I am Harvey Gould, board chair” He points to the one on his left, “this is Jerome O’Neil,” the widow, and then nods to the somber one, “Geoff Hasselback, finance.” Speare lets his good eye bore into Harvey. One of the important rules of life coaching, and of psychological assessments, let the silence do the heavy lifting. “We believe, as does our congregation that our minister was murdered, the police do not. We wish to hire you to find a killer.”

The key piece, the supposed burglar was never found. But three months, was three months, there would not be much to go on within the sanctuary itself as it has been well trampled since the incident. Speare nods, what is left out in the statement is as powerful as what they said to him. “Alright. It is just a murder you want me to look into or is there something more?” Geoff shifts ever so slightly in his chair. There is more to this than meets the eye, but it will take digging to dig it out.

“Yes just a murder, I want to find who killed my husband and why.” Jerome O’Neil said.

A very clear statement. “Alright then, I will follow the evidence where ever it takes me to the truth, you gents ready for that?” The three nod. Speare rises and places his hat back on, shakes hands and makes his way out of the office towards the sanctuary to take a look in piece and quite.

It is a unique floor pattern, mostly tile, yet the outside frame was carpet of about two feet, and then a strip of carpet up the centre. Where the strip met the bottom step of the two steps to get up to the stage where the choir and podium were.  Speare clicked on his flash light and it illuminated some subtle rust stains within the carpet still. The click of old school nursing shoes, the coffee bringer.

“Hello ma’am.” Speare doesn’t turn around to greet the new person in the sanctuary.

She walks softly, with the faintest of clicks of the shoes on linoleum. She hands Speare a fresh cup of coffee for him to sip on as he turns from a squat and sits on the step. “Thank you Mrs.….”

The lady smiles, her wrinkles seem to sparkle with the shade of silver her hair is. Looks almost like Sophia from Golden Girls. “Mrs. Lowery, Jane please.”

“Thank you Jane. You appear to be uncomfortable with what the church has hired me for.” A statement not a question, see where she goes with it.

Jane shifts uncomfortably from foot to foot, her gaze goes to the toes of her shoes, she won’t look at Speare’s eye, although that rarely says anything, due to the burns and missing eye there are many who refuse eye contact. Then there are those that hold a fiery eye contact as if they are saying “I refuse to see your pain”.

“They are not telling you everything.” Jane said.

The sanctuary door creaks open again, Speare glances up to see Geoff standing in the doorway. Jane looks to the new intruder, and quickly lets Speare know that the door at the back of the sanctuary is to the kitchen where he can leave his empty mug when he is done. Speare thanks her, and notes to follow up with Jane Lowery at another time for she appears to know more than she is saying about this simple burglary and murder.

Geoff walks up, but chooses not to use the centre aisle, rather he takes to the carpeted border against the wall of the sanctuary and makes an “L” movement towards the steps where Speare is seated.  Speare takes a sip and studies the man that locks into his eye and refuses to break eye contact. A battle of wills, that Speare is unsure if Geoff knows what he has entered into it. What is the finance guy from the church hiding? What control does he have over the other two? Why is Jane Lowery so skittish to be over heard discussing the death of her minister in front of him?

What dark secrets lie in the soul of this church?

“Here is your retainer, we expect weekly updates with expenses submitted, and cheques receipted.” Geoff stated.

Speare takes the check and folds it into his jean pocket. He nods agreement to the statement. Geoff sought him out specifically for an Alpha Male play in the business relationship, to assert that Speare understood who was in charge. Speare just smiled. Everything was a clue in understanding something, and revealing another truth.

Speare watched as Geoff left the sanctuary. “What an odd little man.”