Synopsis of The Wife’s Turn
Now The Wives are in Charge!
The Caribbean island of St. Theresa has a new government that is mostly women; a new, woman-owned newspaper and radio station; and a population that is demanding changes. The heroine of the Trilogy, detective, JJ Joseph, has a new job, a new boyfriend, and assassins who want to kill her and her family.
Now that the former patriarchs have all been arrested and sent to a prison in the UK, JJ battles the remaining forces of the crime families. The murders continue as the crime families reorganize and squabble among themselves. JJ has some help this time; her immense boyfriend—imagine The Incredible Hulk in dark chocolate—joins in the fight.
Her friend Cecily and the other grandmothers go about reinvigorating an economy left in shambles after decades of corruption by the former oligarchic government. They begin to develop the entire island into a paradise of nature tourism.
This is the final novel in the Jacinta Joseph Caribbean Adventures trilogy that explores the role of women in society and the relationships between women at different stages of their lives.
Chapter 1: Monday, 3 February, 6:30 am, Warrington
“Miss Jacinta Joseph?”
Jacinta examined the two police officers in their white, starched uniforms, gold badges and nameplates. They had stopped her in an alley just below Queen Victoria Street in the older business section of the city. She had never seen either man before.
“You under arrest for de operation of detective business without a private investigator license.”
Jacinta, who everyone called JJ, decided that it would work out somehow. She offered no resistance, turning around with her hands behind her back. Something is seriously wrong. Yes, I am running a detective business, and no, I don’t have a license, but how the hell did they even know I’m on the island? How did they know anything?
One of the officers locked her wrists together using plasticuffs then each took an elbow and led her from the alley to Queen Victoria Street. As they pushed her along the narrow sidewalk, already over-filled with people making their way to menial jobs, the crowd made way for the trio to pass, either by pressing themselves against the weathered stone buildings or stepping into the street.
The policemen were taking her toward Police Headquarters in Warrington, the capital city of the island nation of St. Theresa, known locally as St.T, a hundred square miles of volcano that poked out of the Caribbean a few million years ago and slowly eroded down to a jungle-covered bump on the placid sea. Warrington, really just a small town of fifty thousand, was ensconced on the hillsides around a tiny harbor with only enough room for one cruise ship to visit at a time.
The buildings that ringed the harbor for the last two hundred years were a mix of stone colonial offices and warehouses. Higher up the slope, awkward concrete imitations of European structures were scattered among wooden shacks painted a riot of pastels. Queen Victoria Street paralleled the harbor road, one block uphill, about forty feet above sea level.
After a hundred yards of weaving their way through the crowd, the men turned JJ down a second alley, one leading to the wharf area, not to the Warrington police station. This potholed alley had been one of the original streets from colonial times, paved with bricks and cobblestones, edged with concrete ditches to carry the frequent rains down to the harbor, and cluttered with trash cans and broken bits of office refuse.
JJ felt a knot of fear in her stomach. This is seriously wrong—the families are after me again. Dammit! I thought we were beyond this. In five minutes I’ll be on a boat headed for a burial at sea.
JJ waited for the first moment when her captors got sloppy, when their grip on her elbows relaxed. She ripped herself free, spun, then kicked the man on her left in the throat. While he was busy crashing into a wall, stumbling through and scattering three trashcans then finally falling backward onto a set of crumbling back steps, she spun again. She planted her heel in the groin of the other man with a kick hard enough to knock him off his feet into a ditch. There he rolled back and forth, wallowing in what appeared to be a night’s worth of kitchen garbage from a large restaurant, making no effort to get back on his feet.
While the first thug was trying to get air back in his lungs, the second was pressing on his testicles, looking for a position that would make them feel like a bomb had not exploded in his shorts. JJ ran down Queen Victoria Street with her hands still locked behind her, leaving a string of curious office and shop workers standing on the sidewalk, gesturing wildly while discussing what to do. JJ turned up Cork Street where she followed a policeman through the front door of Warrington P.D., ran up the stairs, then, with her back to the door of the detectives’ squad room, knocked loudly.
“It’s JJ. Let me in.”
Lionel Phillips, the island’s only police detective, opened the door.
“Help me out of these things,” she said.
“Jesus! Why do you have such a hard time staying out of trouble?”
“Just cut them off!”
Lionel was rummaging through his desk looking for a pair of sidecuts. “I didn’t hear a Please.”
“OK. OK. I’m a little excited. Please help me out of these things.”
Lionel snipped the plasticuffs then threw them in the trash. JJ flopped into the side chair beside his battered oak desk, a desk that looked like it might have spent years as a work bench at some point in its long life.
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Lionel and JJ had worked together on several murders during the last two years since she retired from her job as a homicide detective in New Jersey to return to St. Theresa, the island where she was born. Up until now, her retirement had been less than relaxing since the families that ruled the island kept trying to kill her and anyone else that got in their way.
When they first met, Lionel was the vice detective so he dressed more like someone who had just been arrested rather than a cop. Now he was the island’s only detective, so he dressed like a typical St.T businessman in a pastel embroidered shirt that hung down well past his waist. He was shorter than JJ, about five foot-ten, with her same coloring, a rich milk chocolate.
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Lionel crossed to the coffee maker to refill his cup. JJ noticed how the smell of coffee filled the small windowless office.
“Do you want some coffee?” he asked.
“No thanks—still trying to give it up.”
“So what the hell happened?”
“I was on my way to Cecily’s condo when two guys in police uniforms arrested me for operating a detective business without a license—or so they said.”
“I haven’t heard anything about that.”
“Right! Well, I figured they weren’t cops when they turned down that alley on Queen Victoria Street that heads down to the wharf.”
“Where are they now?”
“I left them in the alley, one holding his balls, the other rubbing his throat trying to get some air through it.”
“Stay here. I’ll go check it out.”
Lionel left. JJ sidled over to the coffee maker, stood for a moment staring at the glass pot, half full of fragrant black nectar, then crossed the office to sit at an empty desk, drumming her fingers. The desk once belonged to a good cop who the families killed the previous year.
She called her sister using her cellphone.
“Warrington Insurance, Brigette Dearden speaking. How can I help you?”
“It’s JJ. Listen. The families tried to kidnap me again this morning. Make sure you don’t go anywhere alone for a few days. You know what happened last time.”
“Damn! Are you OK?”
“Yeah, nothing happened to me.”
“What about the guys who tried to kidnap you?”
JJ chuckled, “About the same as the last bunch.”
Brigette snorted, “Shall I send an ambulance?”
“Lionel is checking them out.”
“Well, I’ll stick with Ian today. We don’t need to leave the building.”
“Good. I’ll call you if I hear anything.”
JJ poured herself a coffee and paced while she waited for Lionel to return.
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The families were descendants of French colonists who had originally settled St. Theresa. Even after the island was ceded to Britain in 1763, the French families continued to rule the island, controlling the government and all the major businesses. They ruthlessly maintained their position of power, eliminating anyone who seemed a threat. Dozens of former threats had been killed, weighted then dropped into a crowded undersea graveyard, five miles west of the island where the water was a half-mile deep.
This morning, the five patriarchs of the families were in prison, a prison built in the 1700s as a British fort with all the creature comforts one would expect in a dungeon. Four of their wives were visiting, trying to learn what was going on. The nine well-dressed but disheveled aristocrats were awkwardly standing around in the weed-covered exercise yard, huddled in a tight group, ignoring the three wobbly chairs available in a far corner, all wet from an overnight rain. There was a distinct smell of urine.
The wives’ attention focused on Damien Lanausse. As the Governor-General of the island, they expected him to clear up this obvious misunderstanding.
“Look, there’s nothing I can do!” he said. “The arrest warrants came from the UK. Even if I had some influence with our new government—which I don’t—they can’t help us. We’re being extradited to the UK so we’ll be under their justice system. And it seems the Americans want to have a go at us once the Brits are finished.”
His wife Paula hugged him. Then she hugged her brother Ainsley Bercier, an important judge. He was the one man who didn’t have a wife visiting him that morning, having divorced the previous year. Wherever she was, he was sure his ex was smiling,
Lorelle Gourges stood next to her attorney husband, Rollins. They were around seventy-five, ten to fifteen years older than the others. Lorelle thumped Rollins in the stomach, “How could you idiots let this happen? You were supposed to be on top of things, to at least be smart enough not to get caught.”
She gave her cousin, Ellison Fournier, a scowl, “Ellison, you’ve been a businessman all these years. Between you and Rollins you should be able to run a little side business without alerting Interpol, for Christ’s sake.”
Ellison stood with his arm around his wife, Mariette, who was shivering in the cold mist. He shrugged his shoulders and hung his head. Mariette looked at her brother Damien and her sister-in-law, Paula, both shivering, perhaps from the cold, perhaps from fear.
Perry Deslandes, the head of Deslandes Importing, held his wife, Delphine, who had been quietly sobbing into his chest. “It’s my fault too,” he said. “We all should have been more thorough. It’s that damn American detective! We’ve never had to deal with anyone like her.”
Lorelle took charge, “Alright dammit! What’s to be done? Enough of this hand wringing! Let’s talk action steps.”
“Lorelle,” said Rollins, “we’ve talked this out among ourselves. There’s nothing any of us can do. Delphine and Mariette can run the two import companies. Lorelle will reorganize and manage my law practice. Paula can continue to manage the Governor-General’s mansion. They tell us that we’ll be in the UK by Friday. There isn’t time even if we had some ideas.”
Perry, continuing to hold Delphine, said, “Each of us will write a letter with some suggestions for the changes that will have to take place after we’re gone. That’s the best we can do.”
“One thing we can do,” snarled Mariette, “is to take care of that American bitch.”
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At police headquarters, still waiting for Lionel to return, JJ phoned Sheila, her mother.
“Mum, the families tried to kidnap me again this morning.”
“O my God! I thought all that was behind us.”
“I don’t know what’s going on, but it seems they wanted to punish me. I just overheard some cops in the hall saying that the heads of the families were arrested last night. So just stay home for a few days. I’ll call you when it’s safe.”
“Thanks, dear. Beverly and I will just keep to ourselves.”
JJ was hanging up as Lionel returned.
“All I found was a puddle of puke,” said Lionel, pouring himself some fresh coffee, “but I think I know what’s going on.”
JJ sipped her coffee and gave him a look that said, Well, what is it?
“I thought you gave up coffee.” There was a playful smirk on his face.
“Don’t give me any crap. Tell me.”
“OK. There were some arrests last night. We arrested all the big boys: Perry Deslandes, Rollins Gourges, Ellison Fournier, Judge Bercier—and even Damien Lanausse! They were arrested for money laundering. The orders came from Scotland Yard who’s working with the DEA in the US. The UK and the US both want the five men extradited.”
“How did they know that I was involved in the investigation?”
“Well, that was a mistake. Someone at Scotland Yard mentioned your name in a phone conversation with the attorney that is representing the five men. I guess the Yard thought you were in the US. So the families know that you tipped off the DEA to investigate the Investment Bank owned by the five men.”
“How did they know what I look like and where to find me?”
“I don’t know.”
“Shit!” JJ started pacing back and forth alongside Lionel’s desk. “Did they name me as Jacinta Joseph or Jocelyne Dominique?”
“So they know I’m back on the island. … OK, OK … maybe my cover identity is still intact. I can stay at home in Point de Lance as Jocelyne Dominique for a while until this blows over.”
“Where’s your car?” asked Lionel.
“It’s parked in Concord; I took the bus in; I figured the cost of the bus was less than the damage that the damn West Coast Road does to my car. … How long will the extradition take?”
“No time at all. The new government wants to make points with the US and the UK so we’ve been told to cooperate completely with Scotland Yard. Apparently the five are to be sent to the UK by this weekend. Some people from the Yard will be here on Wednesday to accompany them.”
“Any danger of their lawyer being able to postpone the extradition?”
Lionel laughed, “That’s Caldwell Lanausse. Think about who you’re talking about. Our island lawyers have never done anything international. He’s probably just wringing his hands.”
“I know from working with gangs in the US that this kind of thing creates a power vacuum that can be really dangerous. It would help to know who will be in charge after the five men get shipped off to the UK. Are any of their sons being groomed to take over?”
“I don’t know; we’ve never been able to figure out the power structure of the families.”
“Well, I can’t stay here all day. Walk with me to Cecily’s condo; I’ll hide out there today.”
Repeatedly looking around to ensure that they weren’t followed, Lionel and JJ slipped through a series of alleys and passageways that took them down to the marina where Cecily Bercier had two second-floor condos in a renovated warehouse, originally built in the late 1700s of English brick with a red tile roof. Cecily had bought one condo for herself and the other for her newspaper staff.
Cecily was JJ’s best friend and the owner of the island’s best radio station and newest newspaper. She was also the ex-wife of Judge Ainsley Bercier who was about to be the guest of Her Majesty’s government for a decade or two.
“Well, good morning,” said Cecily, opening the door. “I thought you were coming for breakfast this morning. Hey, Lionel.”
“Sorry. Your relatives tried to kidnap me again this morning. A couple of thugs were waiting for me when I got to Queen Victoria Street. I need to hide out today. ”
“You know about your ex and the other family heads getting arrested?”
“Yeah, the other wives have all called me. Everyone is blaming me for it. Somehow the word is out about our involvement in the referendum last year, and they know about you asking the DEA to look into the Investment Bank.”
“I haven’t heard about the arrests on 106.7,” said Lionel.
“Damn! You’re right. I’ve been distracted since the arrests. I’ll call Gerard and Paige now to tell them to get the story on the air. Maybe they could interview you tonight. Are you available, JJ?”
“Sure, but only on Skype. What about the newspaper?”
“Right. Let’s go across the hall and talk to Marjorie so she can get a special edition going. Bringing down the families is big news. She’ll know how to word it without getting into libel. For that matter I’ll have her call Gerard and Paige so she can give the DJs some guidance on the legal issues when we have to say negative things about people.”
“I’ll head back to the office,” said Lionel. “Call me if you have any more trouble.”
“Thanks, Lionel. I’ll stay here until late afternoon, then I’ll catch the bus back to Concord.”
“No you won’t,” said Cecily. “I’ll drive you home after dark.”
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