I write thriller-mystery, and because I do, each story needs to have a cop. I have several that are recurring characters, but Graff has been with me since the Lives Trilogy. At first, he was a detective with the Waukesha (Wisconsin) Police department. In Betrayed, he received a promotion and new title, Chief of Detectives. He didn’t want it, but accepted it, because he couldn’t see taking orders from anyone else besides the Police Chief. He hates sitting at a desk and even more, hates the paperwork involved in a case. So the deal he made with the chief is that he still gets to work in the field.
Jamie is the quiet type, strong and steady. He isn’t afraid to make a decision, but he is always willing to listen to input before a decision is made. He’s married to Kelly, and together, they have a young son, Garrett.
His go-to people of choice are two detectives with the Waukesha Sheriff Department, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann. Those two are a team and most often work together. When Graff calls, they come willingly, and are a formidable team.
Here is a snippet from Caught in a Web:
Graff hated late night or early morning phone calls. They were almost always bad. Actually, no almost about it. They were all bad.
His wife, Kelly, was already sitting up in bed by the time Jamie answered his cell.
“What do you have?”
“Another body. A boy who looks like a middle school kid.”
“Cause of death?”
Patrol Sargent Todd Collins hesitated, not wanting to say anything, but he did anyway.
“The ME hasn’t confirmed it so it isn’t definite, but it looks like another OD.”
Graff shut his eyes, rubbed his face and shook his head tiredly. So far, three high school kids and now a middle school kid.
“Where are you?”
“Alley behind Causeway.” As if he needed to explain further said, “The hardware store on Sunset near the hair place. Empire.”
As soon as Collins told him they were behind Causeway, he knew where they were. He knew his city. He knew his county.
Graff looked at the alarm clock and saw that it was a couple of hours before he was going to get up. It was his day off. Rather, it was supposed to be his day off.
“Be there in thirty,” and he ended the call.
“Bad?” Kelly asked.
Graff didn’t like to bring his work home with him. His home, his life with Kelly and his son, Garrett, was his sanctuary, his island, and he didn’t want to poison it with his work. But Kelly was his best and closest friend, besides Jeremy Evans and Jeff Limbach, and as hard as he tried not to, he ended up sharing bits and pieces with her. Just bits and pieces. Not the whole story, because he felt the whole story was too much. Kelly had disagreed, arguing that bits and pieces were worse because it left her imagination to fill in the rest.
Like the summer a year ago and that mess with Brett and the boys in Chicago. Like what had happened to George and Jeremy in Arizona. CNN and the local news filled in some of it, but Jamie had never told her what had taken place in that warehouse in Chicago. He never told her about the fire fight and how Gary Fitzpatrick ended up getting shot, or how little Mikey Erickson was so beaten up and how he started stuttering, or how Brett ended up in the hospital with a gunshot wound, or how George ended up with so many scars or why he was given both an open and a concealed carry for the large knife she often saw on his hip.
Jamie laid back down, his face buried in Kelly’s breasts.
“We don’t have time for this. You have to go catch bad guys.”
“The bad guys can wait.”
“Get going, big guy. You jump in the shower and brush your teeth. I’ll make you an egg sandwich and some coffee.”
“Friggin’ A,” Graff said. “I hate these calls.”
“You hate any calls that wake you up before you’re ready to get up.” She kissed the back of his head and said, “Get going, big guy.”
He sat up and said, “Crap,” but he crawled out of bed, both arms above his head as he stretched on his way to the bathroom.
You can see Graff struggles with what to share with his wife. He struggles keeping his cop life separate from his family life. He loves being a cop, but he loves his family more.
Here is another example from Caught in a Web:
Jamie ended the call, closed the file and ran his hand through his hair and over his face. He pushed himself out of his chair, walked down the hallway and looked in on Garrett and wondered for the millionth time what kind of boy he’d grow up to be. Privately, he hoped he’d grow to be like Randy or George or Brett. Maybe a combination of the three.
He sat on the edge of his small bed and brushed his cheek with his thumb. Dark complexion with black wavy hair and dark eyes like his dad, but with Kelly’s sunny disposition and sense of humor. A softness that Jamie hoped he’d never, ever, lose.
“Don’t wake him,” Kelly said from the doorway.
Jamie bent down, kissed Garrett’s forehead and whispered, “I love you.”
He joined Kelly at the doorway, their arms around each other as they watched their sleeping son, wondering what he was dreaming, if he was dreaming.
Of course he was dreaming. Innocent dreams. Happy dreams filled with sunshine and laughter.
All little kids dreamed. It was only when they got older that they sometimes stopped dreaming for one reason or the other. Sad. Really sad.
One interesting thing about Jamie Graff is that in real life, not in fiction, he is a police chief in a small city where I used to work as a high school principal. Jamie was my School Resource Officer, and because he is a great cop, he rose in the department to chief. He has provided much needed technical support and information for my books. Most anything involving crime scene scrub downs, forensic work, search warrants, and countless questions usually beginning with, “If . . .” come from him and others like him. I added him to my book as a character because he is a friend, and because I couldn’t think of a better example of a fine cop. Thanks, Jamie!