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Thursday, June 20, 2019


Chris Phipps writes the kind of books she likes to read: mostly mysteries, free of graphic violence, sex, and excess profanity. She is the author of three novels in the Wagner-Callender Mystery Series with another in the works, and one of her short stories was included in the Saturday Evening Post 2016 on-line anthology of best short stories. Learn more about Chris and her books at her website.

If you like mysteries or thrillers, you’re all too familiar with the tough cop. He’s the guy (or gal) who somehow manages to view the most horrific crime scenes without batting a single eyelash, staying focused on clues and evidence. To do his job effectively, he’s hardened himself, at least externally. That, of course, creates our flawed hero, the one who fights alcoholism or some other addiction, whether it be drugs or work, or something more esoteric.

But I wonder how they handle the injustices they encounter, the ones created by our own flawed systems?

How do they pick up a runaway girl, knowing she will probably be sent back to the same foster home she’s trying to escape? Do they choose between two evils, the abusive foster parent or the likelihood the girl will fall into the clutches of a pimp who will lure her with affection she’s never before experienced?

While there are many good foster parents, all too often, people foster for the money they receive, not for the love of children. Some treat the kids as unpaid servants. Some children are abused. Many are neglected or given minimal care. And most of the child welfare systems in this country don’t have the resources to find better places for the children, or even to check up on them as frequently as necessary.  Added to that, the explosion of drug addiction has introduced thousands more kids into the system.

How do police officers arrest the desperate parent trying to “kidnap” his own child from an abusive ex-spouse? And that does happen. All too often, the parent with the most money wins custody simply because he can hire the best lawyers.

In one instance, the father’s lawyer hired a child psychologist who testified in court that the little girl’s claims of abuse from her father and stepmother were simply attempts by the child to gain attention! Fortunately, at least for that child and her older brother, they had a caring court-appointed attorney. He gave each child his phone number and told them to call him each time something abusive occurred. The lawyer recorded the calls and, when he had enough information, called the father. His message? “I have enough to get you locked up for a good long while. If you want to avoid that, I suggest you give your wife sole custody of those children.”

The father complied. Today that little girl is an honors student at her local high school. Her brother graduated this year and has already joined the Navy. They’re both good kids, eager to give something back to their community and their country.

How does an honorable, law-abiding father continue to allow his ex-wife visitation rights when he knows she’s conniving to be the favorite parent by being their buddy, giving them alcohol, allowing them to stay up— and sometimes out—hours after their curfew? What does he do when he learns she’s also introducing them to drugs? He can’t prove it; the kids aren’t going to testify. Today one of those children is in prison for selling drugs. Another, a girl, has finally beaten the addiction and has been clean for three years. But during that time, she lost her baby into the system and subsequent adoption by another couple.

These are only small samples of what I found while researching the topic.

I wondered how a rookie detective would react to this aspect of the job and decided to explore it in Haunted by the Innocent, the third book in my series.

Haunted by the Innocent
Rookie detective Dee Callender has a puzzling crime scene: two men murdered, two wounded on a Sacramento golf course with top-of-the-line security. How did the killer–or killers—get in and out without being seen or their images captured on surveillance cameras? And why this strange foursome: a city councilman, an attorney with a questionable reputation, the owner of a suspected prostitution site, and a children’s dentist? The answers, when she finds them, shock and sadden her and make her question the limitations of her job.

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