Dear readers, tonight with us is an ex-cop private investigator. He’s here to tell us about living on the mean streets, and coming out of retirement to save an innocent kid from jail.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I grew up all over Vancouver. I only have a vague memory of my dad. My mother and I moved a lot. It was only as I got older that I learned she saved money by defaulting on rent payments so that she could send me to university. Because we moved so much, I didn’t make a lot of friends until I got to high school.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
I guess I had the usual toys, such as my mom could afford. The only vivid memory I have is of watching TV with a man. I guess he was my dad, though I can’t say for sure. It was an old cartoon about a moose and a squirrel I think.
What do you do now?
I’m a private investigator. I started Stammo Rogan Investigations with another former cop, Nick Stammo. Nick was run down by a couple of crooks and he’s in a wheelchair now. He was my partner at the time and I always think that if I could have done more, I could have avoided the event that put him in that wheelchair. It’s funny, in the VPD, we really disliked each other but now we’re partners.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
I’d kind of retired from the PI business. There was an unfortunate conclusion to a case of a missing girl who had been abducted. It really soured me to the business of saving people. But when I heard about this kid who was in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, I just had to help him. It was tough. All the DNA evidence pointed to him being guilty of killing his girlfriend but I knew the cop who investigated the murder and he was dirty. I knew I had to help the kid. Little did I know the problems it would cause and that it would put my whole family in danger.
What did you first think when you visited the kid in jail?
I felt sorry for him. His name’s Micah and he was brought up by a pretty strict religious family. He was dating this Muslim girl and neither of them had told their families. When I saw him in the Kent Institution, which is one of the toughest prisons in Canada, the poor kid was so out of place. He was being terrorized by one of the jailhouse gangs and it was only by the greatest of luck that a rival gang leader had taken him under his wing and was protecting him… but for how long?
What was the scariest thing in your investigation?
When we started investigating the crime we learned a lot about Micah’s late girlfriend. And let me tell you, not all of it was good. As we started to turn over stones, we attracted the attention of some pretty scary folk. Suddenly, I realized I had put my family in real danger.
What is the worst thing about being a private investigator?
Mostly, our work is pretty straightforward but every so often we come up against some pretty bad criminals and they are not shy about taking a shot at us. Our investigation into Micah’s case was not the first time my family has been threatened. One time a drug gang kidnapped my ex-wife and my daughter and it was only by luck that I was able to save them. My girlfriend was stabbed in Hong Kong all because of a missing person case I was pursuing. She survived but her parents have never forgiven me.
What is the best thing about it?
We often get a good result. A little while back we reunited a kidnapped child with her parents. We helped a truly good person who was being exploited by a sleazy lawyer. Hell, we even shone some light on a very secret operation by some rogue government officials.
The other great thing about my job is the team I work with. Nick, Adry and Lucy are the best and I’m even getting to like the new guy, Zeke.
Tell us a little about your friends.
I don’t have a lot of friends outside of work. When I was a homeless junkie living on the streets I had a couple of friends named Ghost and Tommy. They are both incorrigible alcoholics but they’re the salt of the earth. They do a lot of surveillance work for us. And they’re good at it; after all, no one notices the homeless, right? We have a bond because they knew my dad and they loved him.
Any romantic involvement?
Tina Johal is my girlfriend. Like me, she’s a recovering addict, in fact, we met at an NA meeting. I’ve been trying to muster up the courage to propose to her. I don’t think her parents will be too happy because of what happened in Hong Kong. But we’ll get through that. My daughter Ellie adores Tina, so that’s a plus. We’ll see.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
Secrets and the things people will do to keep them. All the criminals I’ve had to deal with over the years had secrets they were willing to kill people to keep. We have tracked down crooked cops, child molesters, drug gangs and politicians all of which had dirty little secrets they were prepared to kill for.
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
Easy question. 🙂 I love a good craft beer and my hometown, Vancouver, is famous for its craft breweries. So many beers, so little time.
I have a little British Austin Healy from the 1960s and I love the colour which is British racing green. There’s nothing quite like driving it, with the top down, on a Vancouver summer day. Sometimes, I think I should grow up and buy a real car but then again if I was really a grownup, I wouldn’t be doing what I love.
What does the future hold for you?
Well, we just met a woman who claims she has lost her memory but I’m not too sure that she’s being honest with us. And my daughter Ellie keeps telling us that she wants to become a cop. I’m not sure that’s what I want for her but hey, she’s only thirteen so no need to freak out just yet.
Robert French is a software developer, turned actor, turned author who was born in Oxford, England, and was brought up in the East End of London. At age 26, he emigrated from the UK to Canada “for a couple of years”; he has been there ever since. He is the writer of the seven (so far) Cal Rogan crime thrillers about a drug-addicted ex-cop who fights his way from living rough on the streets to being a much-sought-after PI. Robert is passionate about the beauty of having the right words on the page and with every new book, his goal is to make it better than the previous one.
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