I finished There Was No Second Date on Friday, weighing in at 52,208 words. On the NaNoWriMo validator, it shows up as a lot less, but I blame the email headers in the Interludes.
Anyway, here is a lively excerpt from the book, for your enjoyment.
I took out a tape recorder from my purse and set it on the desk. “Do you mind if I record our conversation?”
He shook his head, but stayed standing. “No, but let’s go into an interview room. It’s quieter. Is that all right?”
I nodded. “Sure,” I said cheerfully. He led me to a hallway and into a room that looked somewhat like a conference room… except the door didn’t have a handle on the inside. I swallowed, hard.
“This is where you interrogate suspects?” I asked, a little nervous now.
He nodded. “Yes, but you’re not a suspect.” He left the door open, which set me at some ease. “Go ahead and turn on your recorder,” he continued, still as calm as ever.
“Are you sure? I don’t want you to get into any trouble–”
He chuckled at that, and I realized his craggy face looked very warm when he smiled. “No worries, there, Miss Engles. My voice is recorded approximately five hours out of every day, between interviews, transcripts, and depositions.” He paused. “Go ahead.”
I turned on the recorder, opened the notebook where I’d written my questions, and started the interview.
It really was about being a homicide detective, the procedures, but also about how he managed to maintain such a calm demeanor through it all.
“Well,” he said after a long pause. Every word had been deliberate with him– although he’d made me wait, sometimes uncomfortably long, for a reply sometimes, when he spoke, it was with care and precision. “By the time I am on the case, the worst has already happened. Someone has died. From there, I can make it better, or I can make it the same. The very worst that I can do is be sloppy. If I am sloppy, or if anyone on my team is sloppy, then we set up the case to be lost when and if it goes to trial. For that reason, the most important thing I can do is take the utmost care with everything. Every piece of evidence, every witness account, every thing– each is a tiny part of the puzzle. Now, it is possible to know what the puzzle looks like if you don’t have every piece. But if too many pieces are missing or broken, then the puzzle falls apart.”
He paused again, another long pause. Then he reached over and clicked the off button on my recorder. “Miss Engles, can I ask you a personal question?”
“Yes, Detective?” I am pretty sure I was blushing at this point– the way he’d touched the recorder had felt somewhat… intimate.