Rocky Start, Chapter Four: Max, Chapter Five: Rose

It’s April Fool’s Day. If I was the sprightly type, I’d do some clever prank here, but I left sprightly a long time ago, so here’s some more Rocky Start.

Chapter 4

I continued on to the post office for my boots, sorting out what had just happened.

The woman swinging the statue hadn’t been young, but she hadn’t been weak, either; tall and feisty and fierce, nobody to mess with. Attractive, but then I hadn’t seen a female other than Maggs in weeks, so my judgment was questionable.

The guy had been serious, ready to escalate to firearms, which was bad news for the woman. Didn’t matter how feisty she was, if he shot her, she’d be done. He’d also rolled with the leg sweep and then assumed a stance which indicated training in real no-frills fighting, which is a combination of the useful parts of various martial arts, leaving the bullshit for the movies. And he’d left in a limo after being brought to heel by some woman so he probably had some mother issues. Those are the worst.

As for the woman’s back-up, the blonde girl had been young and pretty and obviously not afraid to use a shotgun, steady and serious. Dangerous, if inexperienced. The older, stacked woman in the big black hat. . . something odd there. That wasn’t a hat pin she’d taken out of her hat. It was a small version of the classic Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife and she held it in a way that indicated she knew how to wield it. If the guy had come for her, she’d have gutted him. And then the last woman, roughly the same age as the statue-swinger, Asian-American in a suit with a taser in her hand and a look on her face that said somebody was going to die.

A quartet of women ready to inflict pain.

Definitely not going back there.

Heading down the main drag in town, there was no sign of the limo, just a handful of people going about their business, most of them middle-aged or older, which made sense. Rocky Start did not look like the kind of place that kept its young.

The town was on a bend in the river that cut through the mountains. The highway I’d come in on ran between the town and a ridge line on the side away from the river. The trees were just beginning to turn at the higher elevations, and it was going to be a beautiful fall here in a week or two. It would also be beautiful miles down the AT where I planned on being shortly, with fewer homicidal women.

I checked my app and found out there were two post offices because the town was bisected by the state line between Tennessee and Georgia. That explained the blue line running down the center of the appropriately named State Street. Two post offices seemed extreme, but I’d done contract work for the government and knew redundancy and stupidity were built into all elements of the bureaucracy.

There wasn’t much of a town outside of this main street, perhaps a block or two on either side. None of the buildings were higher than two stories. Most of the ground floors were small mom and pop shops. A furniture store, a small hardware place, a dentist, a Chinese restaurant, a sketchy looking pharmacy, and, I noticed, two funeral homes, across the street from each other, one in each state, which seemed extreme unless there were things going on in them there hills I didn’t want to know about.

The two POs were, like the funeral homes, directly across the street from each other, and Georgia had a CLOSED sign on the door. Tennessee won by default although I had little doubt that my old boss had shipped the boots to the Georgia side because it would amuse the superior entity running the simulation which was my life.

Maggs and I climbed the steps up to the porch in Tennessee, and I signaled for her to wait outside the door and went in. There was no one behind the counter, but there was a bell. Before I tapped it, given the weirdness I’d already seen here, I surveyed the place, noting a pair of cameras in the far corners of the room. Pretty high tech for a small town. Then I leaned over the counter to take a look. Nothing suspicious to see except a M1014 Benelli semi-automatic shotgun in a specially made sheath behind the counter, ready for quick deployment. It was the close-quarters shotgun that the Marines had chosen in a competition and was also used by various special operations forces when they wanted to clear a room quickly with a half-dozen 12 gauge rounds as fast as you can pull a trigger. Not standard post office issue, last I checked. I hoped my package wasn’t postage due.

Okay then.

I lightly tapped the bell. It took several seconds, then an older fellow—gray hair, bushy white eyebrows, a napkin tucked into the collar of his uniform shirt—came out. He looked me up and down, then nodded.

“Max Reddy?”

I tensed, half-expecting dark figures to lunge out of the shadows. “Yes.”

“We got your package yesterday.”

I had to ask, although I didn’t want to. “How do you know it’s mine?”

“The wife and I know everyone in town and the package was sent care of the post office to someone we never heard of,” Postmaster Ferrel (according to his name tag) explained. “Max Reddy. So we figured it was a stranger passing through. We don’t get many strangers. Passing through. None staying. You are him, right?”

“I am he,” I said, for lack of anything else and noting the emphasis on ‘none staying’. So far, this wasn’t turning out to be a friendly town, Weed Brothers, statue brawls on the street, and all. I waited for him to produce the package but he just stared at me.

“The package?” I finally prodded.

“Oh,” he said, as if surprised. “It was sent to Rocky Start, Georgia. Across the street. My wife has it there.”

“That post office is closed.”

“Yes,” he said. “Post mistress is out doing the route.”

“Could you perhaps get it for me?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Nope. Not my jurisdiction. The United States Post Office is a branch of the federal government, son, and as such we are governed by very strict laws regarding the storage and delivery of mail.”

“Right,” I said. “Could you unlock the door so can I get my package?”

He shook his head. “The wife doesn’t like me messing with her stuff. She doesn’t like me much in general right now. That woman can carry a grudge. She should be back before dinner.”

I sighed. “You want me out of town? Get my package and I’m gone.”

He looked at me keenly. “You here because of Ozzie?”

“Who’s Ozzie?”

“Friend of ours. He died two days ago. Terrible thing, but he was getting on in years.” He pursed his lips. “I hear tell there’s some stranger in town claiming to be Ozzie’s son, giving Rose at Oddities some trouble. That you?”


“Good. Don’t like vultures winging into town. Not much for strangers either.”

No shit. “Could I just get my package?” I pointed at my toe sticking out of the boot. “It’s boots. I need them.”

“You sure do,” he agreed, without moving. “I also hear there’s a fellow who ran off the man claiming to be Ozzie’s son. That you?”


“Just happened to be there by chance, did you?”

The rumor network in this town was better than the NSA’s computers monitoring the internet. The paranoia on par with the CIA. “I was on my way here. To get my boots.”

“Planning on staying long?”

“I was hoping to be gone this afternoon,” I said. “Once I get my boots. And see a veterinarian for my dog. Sooner I get the boots and my dog looked at, the sooner I can be on my way. Not staying. Don’t want to stay.”

“Town doesn’t have a vet at the moment. He’s gone.” His voice made it clear the vet couldn’t have gone too soon to suit the postmaster.

This guy was mutinously stubborn. I noted the screaming eagle pin in his collar. “I was in the Infantry a long time ago and learned that taking care of the feet is a priority.” I hated playing the veteran card but I needed the damn boots.

He nodded judiciously. “Hundred and First airborne.”

I dialed up a unit. “First Cav.”

He scoffed. “The line they never crossed, the horse they never rode, and the color speaks for itself.”

I blinked at the insult based on the First Cav’s shoulder patch which consisted of a large yellow shield, with a diagonal line on it, and a horse’s head in the top part.

“Better than a puking chicken,” I returned, referring to the screaming eagle on his pin since it appeared Postmaster Ferrel liked playing games.

He gave a slight smile now that we had properly insulted each other. But he didn’t move.

The door opened behind me and the young shotgun blonde came in, looking like she owned the place, Maggs padding after her from the porch. Which Maggs isn’t supposed to do. I waited for Ferrel to throw a fit about the dog being inside. I was, of course, wrong.

“Hiya, Poppy,” Ferrel said, changing demeanor in a flash.

Poppy smiled at him. “Hiya, Mr. Ferrel.” Then she turned to frown at me. “Your dog is hurt. Let me help, I’m good at that.”

“Yep,” Mr. Ferrel agreed. “Poppy’s pretty much the town vet these days since that moron Alfie ran off to Peru with his assistant. Louise.” He said the name with loathing, and shook his head. “I give it six weeks and he’ll be back, tail between his legs, poorer and no wiser. No Louise, neither.” He looked at me. “She’s a dangerous woman, that Louise, with her womanly wiles. Women. They’ll turn on you in a second. No offense,” he added to Poppy.

“None taken,” she said, cheerfully.

The door opened again, and this time it was Feisty, out of breath and bosom heaving, her cheek red from where that jerk had hit her. “Hi, Stanley,” she said cheerfully, and Stanley said, “Hiya, Rose. Looking good.”

“Thank you, Stanley,” she said, practically twinkling at him. Just a cute little woman in an apron who fifteen minutes ago had tried to beat a guy to death with a Maltese Falcon.

Then she looked at me.

“I came looking for you,” she said, smiling. With dimples. “I’m here to help.”

“I’m good,” I said, not smiling.

Behind me, Stanley chuckled.

It was right about then that I became sure the whole damn town was out to get me.

Chapter 5

The good guy and Stanley Ferrel were having a stare down when I walked in, and Poppy was down on her knees beside the dog.

She said, “Oh, no. She’s bleeding,” and looked up at the good guy, frowning. “And you made her keep walking?” She stood up, angry. “What’s her name?”

“Be polite, Poppy,” I said, and then held out my hand to the guy. “I’m sorry, we haven’t been introduced. I’m Rose. And you are?”

He looked at my hand as if having an internal debate, then sighed and took it. “Max,” he said, and dropped my hand. Then he looked down at Poppy. “Her name is Maggs. But—”

Poppy shook her head at him. “I’m going to take Maggs back to our place and get her bandaged up. You can come get her when you’re done here.”

“She won’t go with you,” he said with calm certainty—I’m pretty sure this guy was calm 24/7—and then he turned back to Stanley. “About my boots?”

Poppy bent to say something soothing to Maggs, and then stood. “C’mon, Maggs,” she said, and the dog headed for the door with her.

The good guy—Max—looked at the dog leaving and said, “Hey!” but Maggs looked back and then kept going and then they were out the door. He stared at the door in surprise.

“It’ll be okay, she’ll take care of your puppy,” I told him, in case he was thinking of going after them. “Poppy’s good with dogs. And cats. Pretty much everything that breathes, really.”

“Yes, she is,” Stanley chimed in. “Poppy’s good people, Rose. You raised her right.”

“Aw, Stanley, thank you. That means a lot.” It actually did mean a lot. Poppy is the best thing in my world, so I love it when other people see how great she is.

Then Stanley looked at Max. “I told you, I can’t get your package because it’s in Georgia.”

“You mean across the road.” Max closed his eyes for a moment, and that’s when I knew how to pay him back for grabbing Junior, and possibly convincing him to trust me long enough so I could lift his wallet to see if he and Junior were in this thing together.

Yes, I have trust issues.

“Stanley.” I leaned on the counter beside Max, brushing his sleeve. If men didn’t like it when you moved in close, they moved away.

Max did not move away.

Stanley frowned at me, so I said, “This guy just saved me from somebody who hit me. I mean, look at my cheek! Max is a hero. The government should reward heroes. You’re the government here, Stanley. You have the power to get him his boots. C’mon, be a hero, too. All he wants is the package that is legally his.” I smiled at him again, just between us, a secret we could share.

It’s a trick so old it has whiskers, but it always works.

“You know how Dottie gets,” Stanley said to me, but I could see a smile breaking through. He was a cheating husband; they always respond to flirting with women who aren’t their wives. Dottie was going to kill him for invading her space, of course, but that was his problem. My problem was getting Max’s boots for him so he’d trust me so I could steal his wallet and find out what the hell was going on.

“Stanley.” I leaned a little closer to Max, a little farther across the counter, too, tilted my head, and hit him with my smile and my dimples. Those dimples are worth their weight in moisturizer. “You’re not afraid of Dottie. I don’t believe that for a second. A tough veteran like you? You’ve faced down much worse. And the hero needs his package. I bet anything he’s ex-military, all you guys have that devastating confidence. He’s your fellow soldier, Stanley. Esprit de corps. And he really needs his package. C’mon. Be a hero. Get the guy his boots.”

Stanley looked at me, and sighed, and turned to Max. “You wanted some boots?”

“Yes,” Max said, clearly on his last nerve and trying to hold onto it. “I wanted some boots.”
Stanley lifted the counter top and headed across the street.

When he was out the door, Max looked at me. “Don’t bother to try that crap on me, it’s not going to work.”

“Have I ever?” I said. “I know you don’t scam that easily. You’re too clued in.” I watched him relax a little. Compliments often did that for men. “That was a big ask, for Stanley to invade Dottie’s territory.” I looked across the street until Stanley was at the door unlocking it. “I lied, he couldn’t take Dottie in a fight. Actually, I think he thought that was a plus in the beginning. Stanley likes strong women.”

Max frowned, looking confused. “In the beginning?”

I nodded. “They’re divorcing. It’s played merry hell with the mail delivery. Some days, nothing gets delivered if they’re really feuding.” I took a deep breath. “So anyway, thank you very much for defenestrating Junior. Or whatever throwing somebody off a stoop is. I was rude back there and you were helpful. So it was my pleasure to con Stanley for your boots, don’t mention it.” Then I stopped. “But I really did have that.”

“He had a gun and he was going for it,” Max said. “And you weren’t armed.” He looked at Lian’s taser in my hand. “Then.”

Junior had a gun? How did he know Junior had a gun? Bespoke suit, they can make them to hide things. Maybe I hadn’t had that. Stop arguing, Rose. “I just needed to thank you.” I smiled and flashed the dimples again.

He was frowning at me now, negating all my dimple power, which was just wrong. I mean, I’m not young any more, and I was never a beauty, but when I put my back into it, I can be cute as all hell.

“That guy who hit you said he was coming back,” Max said. “Why was he going to shoot you?”

“I hit him with the Maltese Falcon. It’s a movie prop—”

He shook his head “I know what it is, why were you hitting him with it?”

“It was the first thing to hand.”

“No, I meant—”

Stanley came back into the office and handed a large Amazon box to Max. “You owe me, stranger. Good thing you’re just passing through.” He held out an electronic handheld device. “Sign here. You can use your finger.”

“Right.” Max slashed his forefinger across the screen while awkwardly holding the box.

“Have a nice day,” Stanley said in his usual, flat voice, indicating his being nice was over and we could leave.

“You’re a sweetheart, Stanley,” I told him. “Dottie is a lucky woman.”

Stanley cheered up a little at the first part, but the mention of his wife’s name put the dour back. Max opened the door and stepped back so I could go out first. What Coral would call A Real Gentleman. So I tripped and fell into him, and he caught me, and I looked up and met his eyes and he really was attractive, and for a moment I forgot why I’d fallen. I mean, I came to my senses, we needed to know more about this guy, but there for a moment, it was just nice to have somebody’s arms around me. Especially his. You know that chemistry thing people are always going on about? Turns out it exists.

I said, “Sorry,” and patted his chest while I pinched his wallet between two fingers, and he moved away from me a little which pulled it from his pocket, and I turned out onto the steps, my back to him as I dropped the wallet in my apron pocket. He came out and closed the door behind us. “I didn’t know about the gun. So. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” He looked around, probably for his dog.

“Poppy will take care of Maggs,” I told him. “You know where we are, right? How to get back to the Oddities shop?” I pointed back the way I’d come. “The blue line runs right down State Street and ends at the shop. You can’t miss it.”

He nodded and sat down on the curb with his Amazon box just as I started to back away, and Pike’s truck rolled to a stop next to him, missing his feet by inches.

Pike looked down at him, but addressed me. “This the guy who helped you, Rose?”

“Hey, Pike,” I said, moving to the window. “Yes. This is the good guy I was telling you about. Do not maim him.”

Pike shook his head. “Go home, Rose, I need to talk to him.”

“Do not hurt him,” I said. “I mean it, Pike. He helped me. That guy who hit me had a gun.”

Pike frowned. “He did?”

I nodded.

“What kind?”

“Uh.” I looked down at Max who was reaching for something on his belt. “What kind of gun?”

He answered without looking up. “Browning Hi-Power in a hip holster, right side, extended mag which is awkward and unnecessary if you can hit what you’re shooting at.”

“That so?” Pike asked.

“That’s the rumor,” Max replied, pulling a very sharp knife out of a sheath.

Pike gave me one of those looks that said he was dead serious. “Go home, Rose.”


I leaned over Max as he slit open the box. “Really sorry about this,” I whispered and started back down the street at a good clip, wanting to make it back to the shop before he noticed his wallet was missing, him being the observant sort—there was a gun?—but he called, “Wait a minute, Rose,” and it was nice to hear him say my name until he walked the few steps to join me, looking stern.

“My wallet,” he said.

I immediately moved into this-is-my-innocent face. “Hmmm?”

“Cute. Give me my wallet, or I will take it.”

“I don’t know—” I started and then I stopped because he was patting me down. Everywhere. He hit the apron pocket just as he was getting to my good parts, and it had been awhile since I’d been patted, so that was a let down, plus I’d somehow screwed up the lift, and that never happened, and—

“If you wanted to see the wallet, all you had to do was ask,” Max said as he took his wallet back.

“Really?” I said.


“That’s what I thought.” I put my hands on my hips, trying for the spunky little woman this time, since innocence wasn’t working. Well, the spunky little woman who was 5’9,” but still such a cute archetype; you’d have to forgive a spunky little woman—

“Don’t do that again,” he said and I gave up on the spunky little woman, too.

“I wasn’t after your money,” I said, trying for outraged virtue.

“I know,” Max said.

“I just wanted to know more about you.”

He leaned down then, almost nose to nose with me and said, “You don’t need to know more about me.”

That’s when I began to think seriously about sleeping with him. Because men will tell you anything if you’re naked, not because I wanted him, I’d given that up a long time ago when I’d realized that I have a genius for finding the only cheating alcoholic in the room and taking off my clothes, and when that happens to you two or three or four times, you just say, “The hell with this” and—

He narrowed his eyes at me, and I realized that being naked might not work with Max, him being the suspicious type, and then he leaned in, and I put my hands on his chest to hold him off, and lifted his wallet again.

Maybe I could get him to pat me down again. That was fun.

“Whatever you’re planning, the answer is no,” Max said.

“That’s really mean,” I said and walked away with his wallet.

50 thoughts on “Rocky Start, Chapter Four: Max, Chapter Five: Rose

  1. I am laughing so hard here 🙂 This is fabulous fun, and these chapters are making my week that much brighter. I love Rose going in for his wallet for the second time.

  2. This is good.

    In the post office, Rose says to Max:

    “Have I ever?” I said. “I know you don’t scam that easily. You’re too clued in “

    For me, it reads as if they have known each other for a while rather than having just met.

    The opposite happen with Rose’s reaction to Stanley complementing her on Poppy.

    “Yes, she is,” Stanley chimed in. “Poppy’s good people, Rose. You raised her right.”

    Aw, Stanley, thank you. That means a lot.” It actually did mean a lot. Poppy is the best thing in my world, so I love it when other people see how great she is.

    Would this have been the first time that Stanley told Rose what a wonderful job she was doing raising Poppy.

    I love how Rose stole the wallet a second time. Poppy is such a wonderful character.

    1. I agree about the “Have I ever?” line. The next line could be “I can tell you don’t scam that easily. You’re too clued in.” and I think it would work

  3. This was all great, apart from the over-focus on guns, which read to me as the hero accepting them as normal/acceptable in civilian life, which seriously puts me off him. Maybe just cutting this sentence – ‘It was the close-quarters shotgun that the Marines had chosen in a competition and was also used by various special operations forces when they wanted to clear a room quickly with a half-dozen 12 gauge rounds as fast as you can pull a trigger.’ – would keep me on board. You show his detailed knowledge of guns elsewhere, but the hyperfocus on it feels like overkill.

    It probably reads differently to your US readers, who’ll be your main audience.

    1. Jane, I have to agree with you. This knowledge of various weapons of destruction is not necessary to the plot, and really puts me off, too. Why do we need to know that? This is the U S. South, where the 2nd amendment is a gospel more important than the Bible.

    2. Yes, WAY too much guns. BOB. This is, let’s face it, a book mainly for women.

        1. Agreed, but I have to imagine that the large majority will be female, due to the overall genre and your reader following.

          1. I’m not sure. On my solo books, yes, but I think the collabs with Bob are a lot more evenly distributed. He has his own readership that he brings with him.

        2. the bob stuff, esp. the weapons, military, tactical and related real guy stuff, is what i love about this collab. it goes so well with the jennie stuff

          it does not put me off at all and i am a woman

          i like that kind of stuff a lot – from dont look down to this one

    3. To me the actual information about a weapon lends legitimacy. Any author can say “he had a gun.” Stating “Browning Hi-Power…extended mag” makes me sit up and pay attention. HELLO. This writer truly knows what they’re writing about. I like them bringing real knowledge to the table. As a gun owner and hunter myself I appreciate the verification. Anyone can hold a weapon, but someone who can identify one knows what they’re doing.

  4. Oh, Jane, you are so right about the problem of guns. While most US readers might be comfortable with them, guns do put off some readers. I couldn’t read Agnes & the Hitman to my husband or daughter because of the guns. Nowadays, I can’t reread Agnes & the Hitman because of that. I used to be one of my very favorite Crusies.

  5. No, I love the detail about the guns. It’s the Max version competence porn.

    And the whole chapter was hilarious. The dimples worth their weight in moisturizer, when she puts her back into it, she could be cute, the second wallet left. Loved it all.

    One thing….Max saying that he hasn’t seen anybody other than Maggs in weeks so that’s why he might think she’s attractive, etc.… He already made that joke in an earlier chapter.

    1. I agree with Tammy about the guns and competence porn. It’s not like Max is parading the guns or boasting about them or showing them off or waving them around. He was in the military; he knows about guns.

  6. Anyway, my thoughts on Chapter 4. This is the chapter where I think the tale-telling hits its stride. My favorite paragraph:

    He was frowning at me now, negating all my dimple power, which was just wrong. I mean, I’m not young any more, and I was never a beauty, but when I put my back into it, I can be cute as all hell.

    This Rose is different from the despairing, ineffectual woman at the start of the story.

    Clearly, Rocky Start overflows with corruption and sex among septuanarians and older, and Ozzie’s death threatens the established order. I’m most curious about Poppy because she doesn’t belong here at all. And I can’t figure out why Max let Maggs leave him so easily. I know that underneath all, women are running the show. Max is certainly aware of that.

    Thank you for posting 5 chapters one after the other. Did I say 5? I must have been anticipating. . . .

    1. Chapter five is there. I think you meant to say thanks for posting chapter six. Not that we are greedy or anything….(g)

    2. Yes, Elizabeth, I agree that Maggs just following Poppy like that is out of character, and Max letting her go, is, too. What happened to those two years they’ve been together, and all that training? He’s clearly outnumbered here and he wants his boots, but he could have tried one command.

      This is just me, but I am cooling on this because of all the mean people, and the guns. I’m not, as a rule, a reader of mysteries or crime novels. There’s enough of that stuff on the news here every day. I don’t want it in my fiction. I realize that many people do enjoy edgy fiction like this. They will buy and read this book, happily. I’m glad these two very skilled writers are enjoying playing off each other. I’m sad that this is not pure Crusie. I know I’m in the minority, so I’ll shut up now.

      1. I admit it is a little odd to have all the gun knowledge in there. The two of them have drastically different styles, for sure.

        1. We have drastically different everything. It’s why the collaboration works; no overlaps.

  7. I felt like the max chapter dragged a little until he got into the post office. A lot of description and just thinking (which I suppose is because bob’s MLs don’t really talk much so they’ve got a lot going on in their heads).

    What did he mean by “I dialed up a unit”? Like he paid more attention?

    I really liked Rose’s chapter and the bureaucratic nonsense of the two post offices mixed with the marital feud of the two postmasters.

    We haven’t gotten to know Max much yet, but I do feel like a lot of Bob’s MLs tend to be quite similar, and they’re often of a personality type that doesn’t attract me much. This hasn’t really been an issue when reading past collab books because the world and characters and tone you create in the book are so lively and engaging, but just thought I’d mention it since it’s something I noticed.

    1. ….Yeah, kinda thought same. I’m not into military anything at all, personally. It’s like the antithesis of hippie ol’ me. But we’ll see. If Bob is what it takes to get Jenny going again, then I’m all in favor, even if it’s different.

      It is kind of why I haven’t read the Bob-only sequels to Agnes and the Hitman, though. I kinda want to, but figure that military-only would bore me without Crusie snark to liven it up.

  8. Crusie and Mayer novels I like very much. It’s a genre. Max is a military man, protector, trained in the ways of war and the good guy. Rose, Lian, Poppy, strong, good women. Please publish soon.

    1. I love them too. I particularly like Wild Ride, for the I guess magical realism excitement.
      And Cranky Agnes is an hilarious, iconic character

  9. Thank you for smiles on a day when we’re about to be blown into the Atlantic.
    In your chapter on Rose, you’ve used cute as all hell, which is at least the fourth time you’ve used hell as a simile.
    And also, cute is used at least 3 times in this chapter.
    I know it’s a draft, and you’ll create new similes and plug in new adjectives.
    So glad you’re writing!

  10. Just a note- two post offices described as ‘extreme’, next paragraph two funeral homes described as ‘extreme’. Maybe the second two could be ‘also seemed excessive’.
    Trim the sentence on the fighting style of Oswald, end after no-frills fighting. We don’t need to know it combines aspects from various martial arts etc., and leave the rest to movie bullshit. File that under killing your darlings.
    Max really oughtn’t to know what kind of gun Oswald was packing from him just reaching for a bulge under his jacket. Never mind the darlings, kill all those guns!!

  11. I don’t mind the guns. Max is a product of military culture, and Oswald is a bad guy. It goes with the territory. But I do question whether Max could see through Oswald’s coat.
    But a great story. I want to read this so much. Of course, I want to read all of Jen’s solo stories and collaborations NOW. <3

  12. Unless Max has x-ray vision, I don’t know how he knew what kind of gun that was. And if I don’t know, why is that piece of knowledge in there? I was so happy to read both these chapters thank you thank you thank you.

    1. How about he knows bc he knows Oswald uses that gun. Max could be working a case. Lots of stuff we don’t know yet.

    2. For folks who truly know (are trained on the subject) many weapons have shapes/sizes that are identifying and could be made out under clothing thin enough. The Hi-Power’s manual safety gives it a relatively unique shape, maybe that’s it.

  13. I loved this. I can kind of see the thing with the guns — they probably need to be there for the same reason that Bob needs to put them in — they’re a chance to compete with other gun-savvy males for gun knowledge points and that whole male mommy vulnerability complex that…

    Well, better not get into that here. Anyway, we all need to compensate a little, right?

    My only”no” moment was in the line about ‘the bureaucracy’ when Max was musing on why the USPS would site two post offices on the same street, across from each other. I had a second of revulsion at the word “stupidity” because all at once I had a whiff of January 6th — you know, the government is stupid and bad, they’re all just part of a conspiracy of the Radical Left — that kind of thing. I don’t want Max to be a Proud Boy.

    1. come on, my father fought in ww2 and worked for the fed govt as a civilian and i heard that at the dinner table every other night when i was a kid

      remember catch 22?

    2. He’s the love interest of a Jenny Crusie heroine, I don’t think you have to worry about that.

      Also, bitching about the bureaucracy and stupidity of the government, any government, is not the sole purview of the any particular political view. I’m pretty damn liberal in my polices, you don’t want to get me started on our provincial government.

  14. i truly love what you have shared with us

    it reminds me of what i loved about your solo books and bob collabs

    my crusie books are falling apart from rereading!

    a brand new book would be a beautiful thing

  15. I keep reminding myself that Jenny is evolving. Her angles are changing. I wouldn’t want to be in the position where an agent/publisher kept telling me that I could only write the same sort of book that I wrote in 2001. Come to think of it, maybe Rose and Max aren’t that dissimilar from Nell and Gabe of Fast Women (published in 2001). All right, Max is very different from Gabe.

    1. Elizabeth, funny you should mention Fast Women. I just started re-listening to Fast Women last night while I was cooking. Perhaps, it should have been Agnes. Anyway, Fast Women published in 2001. Wow, I thought. Really? Also thought about Faking It with the tall, older guy, Ford, FBI agent doing one last job before he retires and heads to Aruba. Maybe like Ford, Max is on one last job. Whatever it is, I am very invested in the story.

  16. Not to appear ungrateful but are there updates on the Alice and Nadine books?

    1. They are resting, although I just bought a book about Lewis Carroll because I’m thinking that Alice will have an impact on the Alice book.

      Right now, we’re dealing with NYC and the Lavender books, writing Rocky Start, Bob’s health and my sanity issues. This too will pass.

  17. I knew it was a mistake – I read the chapters. Now I want the whole book. Please leave in everything – including the guns! The balance is perfect. I love it and will try to be patient….

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