A Guest Post by Author Ron Wick
There’s a new murder mystery author in town and I’m happy to be one of the first to introduce him to the reading world. Ron Wick began writing for others as a ten year old when his parents gave him a small rotary printing press with handset rubber type. Maybe not as old as this puppy…
…but not a new Mac computer either. It was good enough to allow him to “publish” The Golden Nugget News where he wrote about the latest neighborhood happenings for the next two years. I wonder if he had neighbors to write about like John and Ada Gillespie, who lived next door to my Dad and who let him, as a five year old, “drive” their draft horses,
Bob and Dick, while they moved steadily back and forth pulling a rope to haul hay up to the upper reaches of their barn.
But I digress as that’s a story for another time…
As Ron moved through life, he progressed from a ten year old journalist to being a teacher and administrator in Snohomish County, Washington where he influenced the younger generations for 30 years. As an educator he also worked with police and court authorities involving many criminal issues, ranging from juvenile delinquencies to suspected pedophiles. Also during his teaching tenure, he co-authored a collection of high contrast photographs and poetry centered on motorcycling which was published by Ellis Robinson Publishing. He is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all humanity and will donate 10% of his royalties from his new book, Gold Coast Murder, to Lions Clubs International Foundation, the charitable arm of the association of which he has been a member and officer for 35 years.
And now, let’s learn a little more about Ron, straight from the horses mouth, so to speak…
Milk in Bottles
Do you know that milk used to come in bottles? I remember those in my youth. When I was 5 years old a broken bottle of milk changed my life and taught a lesson in helping others, something I believe in and have done my entire life.
Dad and I were walking to the neighborhood grocery store, Mrs. Wickstrom’s, in Ballard. Another boy about my age was coming out the door with a bottle of milk in a paper bag. The bottom of the bag gave way, the bottle of milk hit the sidewalk, glass and milk went everywhere.
The boy jumped then began to cry. My dad went to him and asked if he was hurt.
“No,” he said. “My dad’s gonna beat me when I get home. We don’t got any more money.”
“Come with us,” dad said patting him on the head. “It’ll be alright.”
We went into the store. Dad got another bottle of milk for the boy and paid for it. Mrs. Wickstrom put it in double-bags and showed him how to carry it with one hand under the bottle.
“Thank you, mister he said going out the door and still trembling as he passed the man cleaning up the glass.
My dad was a commercial fisherman, halibut in the Gulf of Alaska. He always described the money he made as “…chicken today, feathers tomorrow.” That day we were in the “feathers” stage. Dad bought the milk and loaf of bread we came for. We didn’t get the ice cream.
That day I learned from example. Dad’s only comment was, “Sometimes you’ve got to help people. Sometimes others might help you.”
I didn’t know about kids getting beaten. I didn’t know some strangers would help you just because they could. What began that day carried into my life of writing, teaching, and serving my community through my 35 years as a member of the Lions Clubs International. My writing today reflects the observations and themes that began to form when I was a 10 year old writing and printing a neighborhood newspaper. Those themes and passions are shaped by life experiences, some wonderful and some brutal.
When I retired in 1997 I began expanding my love for poetry and short stories. The creation of the Santiago Mystery Series provided a vehicle to share fictional stories around fictional characters built around real life themes.
Ron’s debut novel, Gold Coast Murder, published by Stone Thread Publishing, is available on Amazon for Kindle and Smashwords in all other formats. Here’s a description of Gold Coast Murder as seen on Amazon.
When the body of a young black woman is found in a bathtub at the Avenue Hotel in Seattle’s University District the victim is unidentified. The crime scene yields little evidence beyond a blue banquet ticket to a teacher conference from the night before, a possible semen sample on the bed sheets, bruising on the victim’s neck, and the torn tissue of her earlobes. The specifics of the crime are withheld from the media. The desk clerk identifies the room renter as John Smith; large, early thirties, married, wearing a big southwestern watch on the left wrist, and Caucasian.
Homicide detective Michelle “Mitch” Santiago is young, smart, sassy and sexy. She is a twenty-eight year old University of Washington graduate, Police Academy graduate; and member of the Seattle Police Department for four years including two on homicide. She is on the fast track to advancement; a gifted but independent investigator. Santiago and partner Chance Stewart are assigned the case. As the investigation proceeds Santiago is forced to deal with personal issues and a lifestyle that parallels the victim’s.
Using the limited clues Santiago and Stewart identify the victim as Hailey Cashland through a missing persons report filed by gay artist neighbor Terry Shaw. They discover Cashland led a double life with a sordid background beginning with a childhood of sexual abuse including rape, to college and the porn industry in Las Vegas, to the day of her death; successful teacher by day, many lovers by night. The case becomes high profile enough Santiago and Stewart’s other case, the killing of a hobo at Golden Garden’s is shifted to another team.
Santiago and Stewart focus on four persons of interest. Jack Hartley, Superintendent of Gold Coast Academy, has known Hailey for years going back to their days in the Las Vegas skin industry. They are close and he has a unique and distant relationship with his wife. Moses Cruz is an infatuated student athlete stalker, a jealous and confused teenager. Terry Shaw is the angry gay artist neighbor who loves Hailey like a naughty sister, reported her missing, and tries to manipulate the investigation. Trevor Gunn is the mystery man in her life, known of by all her colleagues but not by name; a man with an alcoholic wife, two sons and unable to earn tenure at any of three community colleges where he has taught.
The investigation leads Santiago and Stewart back to the hobo killing, linking one of the suspects to both murders. The suspect runs. He’s traced to Port Angeles, Washington. Did he take the ferry to Victoria, British Columbia or go into hiding? Santiago discovers he once had a relative living in Forks. He is traced to La Push. The motel is staked out. .
When found the suspect is battered and bruised after meeting the enraged brother of a local Native American woman he had attempted to seduce. He is confused and disoriented as he fluctuates back and forth contemplating escape, starting over, suicide and murder. All the key players are present. At the close Santiago moves closer to resolving the personal issues revolving around her background as a stripper while in college, sexual harassment within the squad room, and whether to remain with SPD.