Synopsis of The Judge’s Wife
You don’t want to make her mad!
Cecily Bercier had known for years that she was married to a lying, lecherous judge, but his complicity in recent murders was too much to overlook. She hires detective JJ Joseph, a female Jean-Claude Van Damme, to help her get out of the marriage with some dignity. That’s when the fun begins. Cecily and JJ take revenge to a new level.
While destroying the judge, JJ expands her battle against the five patriarchal families that have ruled the island of St. Theresa for two hundred years. With eight other grandmothers, JJ decides to overthrow the corrupt oligarchy that the families control. As if that wasn’t enough chaos, there are also oozing volcanoes, marriages, births, murders, and explosions. Throughout these problems, JJ is guided by her “Auntie” Oni Hiaru, a Carib psychic.
The book explores the bonds between women at different stages of their lives, the relationships between women and men, and the role of government. Libertarians and Tea Party activists might appreciate the grandmothers’ design of the new government and how they bring it about without firing a shot.
Chapter 1: Tuesday, 31 July, 9 am, Industrie, St. Theresa
Ralston Price stood in the gravel parking lot of The Playhouse, his nightclub, gazing at the front steps. More specifically, he was staring in disbelief at the nude body of one of his men, crumpled on the steps with three bullet holes in his chest.
* * *
“Warrington P.D., Rendell speaking.”
“Detective, this is Sergeant Woodward in Industrie. We’ve got a body over here: it’s Geoff Jardine, a young man from Eau Profonde, one of the regulars at The Playhouse. They found him this morning on the front steps. You better come right over.”
* * *
Thirty minutes later Detectives Bill Rendell and Lionel Phillips pulled into the parking lot at The Playhouse in a white Mercedes SUV borrowed from their police chief. Ralston Price and Sergeant Woodward were leaning against the front of Price’s Toyota RAV-4 while Woodward made notes. The sergeant’s bicycle was leaning against a tree behind the vehicle.
“What do we know so far?” Bill asked as they walked up.
“The dead man is Geoff Jardine from Eau Profonde. He worked for Mr. Price. Must have been killed somewhere else and dumped here,” said the sergeant. “There’s no pool of blood and no clothing anywhere on the property.”
“Mr. Price, do you have any idea what this is about?” asked Bill.
Price slowly shook his head. “This boy just twenty-eight, man. We make a little party for he birthday last month. He work for me, you know. Don’t make trouble for nobody.”
Lionel grabbed the back of Price’s neck and walked him away from the other two cops, out of hearing distance. After a brief conversation with some exaggerated facial expressions, they came back.
“Look,” said Price to the three cops, “you know me business and you let me run de business. I appreciate that. If I knew why someone offed Geoff, I tell you. Someone sending me a message but I don’t understand it. God damn it! I not bothering anybody. My girls? They hurting anyone? My men? Who send me this message?”
The three cops walked over to look at the body which lay slightly on its side with one leg twisted underneath.
“There are no exit wounds,” said Lionel. “We can recover the slugs and hopefully match them with the murder weapon if we can find it.”
“Let’s get JJ over here,” said Bill. “She’s dealt with this kind of thing before.”
Price covered the body with a clean table cloth that he kept around for fancy parties; then they waited.
* * *
An hour earlier on the other side of the island, Jacinta Joseph, who everyone called JJ, had slid into a pool of volcanic mud. Oni, a Carib grandmother she called Auntie, was already in the center of the pool, scooping handfuls of the hot silt and pouring it over her arms and shoulders. Boiling water deep within the volcano fed the pool, bubbling up the dissolved minerals, forming a pool of gray eggnog-like mud about twenty feet in diameter. It was JJ’s spa day.
She lay at the edge of the pool with her head on one of the rounded rocks that Oni had placed around the perimeter to give the pool more depth. JJ looked up at the jungle canopy a hundred feet overhead and listened to the song of the living island: the bass tones of the trade winds stirring the treetops, and the treble of ten thousand tree frogs whose individual chirps blended into a constant soprano. She closed her eyes.
“How you feeling, girl?” asked Oni. “You go be grandmother soon.”
“Well, it’s happening a little sooner than I expected, but I’m not surprised. Dez is a good looking boy and Stella is a beautiful girl. There’s not much on a tiny island like Petite Roche to distract them from each other.”
Oni moved to the edge of the pool and rested her head on another rock a few feet from JJ. She flipped her long gray ponytail out behind her so it would stay relatively dry. They lay without speaking for a full half-hour.
“You wondering if Desmond go be OK,” said Oni. It wasn’t a question; Oni was a psychic who JJ trusted completely.
“Yes, I was just thinking about him.”
“It go be good for he to be with Stella and Marla. He go struggle but he go be fine man. Don’t worry.”
“I still don’t know if I did the right thing by coming home to St.T. I’ve really screwed up Momma’s life. My sister’s too. Maybe I should have stayed in the US and just moved to another state.”
Oni closed her eyes for five minutes. JJ thought she had fallen asleep.
“There go be many changes in St.T, JJ. You go be in de center of de changes. De women on de island go make de changes. You go help they do it.”
“What kind of changes?”
“We go see. We go see. De four murders in April—we go put an end to that foolishness. De future go be much brighter. You must stay on St.T.”
“All these murders, Auntie—why have the women on St.T tolerated their sons being killed like this? Why aren’t they raising hell?”
“It like de black women in de US during slavery. De people too powerless. If they cause trouble, it go make de problem worse.”
JJ’s cell phone dinged. She wiped the silt from her hands then glanced at the screen, “3 5 now”. She and Bill used codes since their phones were probably being monitored by the ruling families who controlled the island. “3 5 now” meant, “meet me at The Playhouse in Industrie now.” Industrie was the largest town on the east side of the island.
JJ went to a nearby stream. She rinsed off, dressed and texted a code to Bill that she’d be there in 30 minutes.
* * *
JJ’s tired Ford Escort followed the coroner’s pickup into the parking lot. She walked over to Bill who gave her the facts so far.
After photographing the body from all angles, she and the coroner made a preliminary inspection of the body. There were some facial bruises that might indicate a struggle. Blood, and what looked like scraps of skin, under the fingernails of the right hand might match scratches on the murderer. The coroner would extract the material back at the morgue. Powder burns around the bullet holes suggested the gun was just inches away when fired, so the murderer probably had blood splatter on his clothes.
JJ walked over to Bill and Lionel. “If this was in New Jersey, I’d say some other gang was sending a message to Price’s gang, something like, ‘That thing you did—don’t do it again!’”
“Our guess too. But Price doesn’t know what he did to piss someone off,” said Lionel.
“This wasn’t a professional hit; professionals don’t get that close to their targets. For now, we need every cop on the island looking for blood splatter, scratches on faces or arms, a pool of blood, and this poor guy’s clothes,” said JJ. “We need to get the word out to the public; call the radio station. Someone saw the vehicle that brought the body here. Someone heard the gunshots. Offer a small reward for information that proves helpful.”
They helped the coroner load the body into his pickup and watched him pull away.
“This is going to be interesting,” said Bill. “This is the first time I can remember finding a body, much less any clues.”
He went to the chief’s Mercedes to call the eight other police stations on the island to request a search of each village for blood, clothing and witnesses.
* * *