A Dish Served Cold

A red-hot cop thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat.


  • Printed Versions

    G.S. Marriott’s first book, A Dish Served Cold, may be purchased in print from the following book stores:

    Locations throughout the Kitchener-Waterloo region

    Cambridge Centre Mall,
    355 Hespeler Rd.,
    Cambridge, Ontario

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It was fast approaching eight o’clock Monday morning, arguably the most depressing day of the week. The one day most working people hated, and the inhabitants of the city of Los Angeles, California were no exception. Only the weather could make it worse, but today that wasn’t an issue, because it was a glorious March day. The sky was clear, with not a whisper of a cloud anywhere to be seen. The temperature was hovering in the mid-70s, and even the smog level was at an all time low, allowing one a deep inhalation of air, without the added bonus of wheezing. The view from the windows revealed people of all ages and ethnicities, bustling through the streets, scurrying to their offices, to once again justify their recession ravaged jobs.

Inside one of those offices, several people were milling about, side-arms openly visible; some in shoulder holsters, while others opted for their belts. They all, to a man, were holding their habitual beverage of choice, that being, more often than not, a steaming cup of strong coffee. Today’s agenda; right the wrongs of the world one more time, but for now, simply enjoy the calmness which prevailed. All the phones were quiet; copiers, lap-tops and fax machines still. The morning parade of civilian staffers were already entering their inner sanctum, coming to rest at their personalized cubicles.  It was actually the most peaceful time of the day for homicide detectives of the Los Angeles Police Department, but it never lasted for more than a few minutes, so one had to just sit back and soak it in, whenever it presented itself.

Unfortunately today, however, the serenity was interrupted earlier than usual, because Randall P. Sinclair decided to make a blustering entrance into the squad room, completely obliterating the tranquility being shared by all. His recent promotion to Commander, had regrettably, positioned him in charge of overseeing various investigative branches, one of those being the Central Bureau’s homicide unit. Early forties, awkwardly tall and slim, he stood about six feet two and wouldn’t tip the scales at more than one-sixty. He wore the latest style glasses; wire rimmed and somewhat  rectangular in shape, the designers’ name boldly scripted along each side. It was definitely something you would see on a male model in a fashion magazine. One thing you would have to say about Sinclair. He was always current in style and taste, and was always impeccably dressed. His salt and pepper hair was slicked down and combed back like the old mobsters used to wear back in the forties. That said, there was also a down side to Sinclair. He just happened to be one of the biggest pricks you would ever want to meet. Few coppers liked him. He was the guy who joined the job not  to be a policeman, but rather an administrator, one who could quickly climb his ladder to success, schmoozing with politicians, movie stars and other high rollers in the L.A. scene. Metaphorically, it was the old looked like a duck, walked like a duck scenario, but this guy was definitely not a duck. Real police work was never on his agenda. It wasn’t the job he coveted, but rather the potential for titles and positions available to him, and he was going to use every opportunity to achieve those lofty goals, regardless of who might get caught in his wake. The only time this guy ever saw the beat in fact, was when he first joined the job, and that was only because it was a mandatory requirement.

He had a guardian angel in house somewhere, because he only stayed out there for a few months. Instead of pounding the streets like most other rookies, he was able to complete his training in a less violent environment, that being inside, away from the streets, pulling strictly administrative duties. Nobody got that kind of gig unless they had some juice somewhere. Where his was coming from or why, no one seemed to know, but there was absolutely no doubt amongst the troops that he had someone watching over him somewhere, because as a street cop, the man couldn’t find the cheeks of his ass with both hands.

Once his probationary period had ended, the first steps of his pre-determined journey began in earnest. He stayed in the administrative side, writing and passing all the tests, stroking the right egos and kissing the right asses. He hadn’t reached the summit yet, but was rapidly ascending. He was an intelligent guy, holding a masters degree in business from the University of Southern California. He was also developing influential contacts both inside and outside of the department on a regular basis. The man was fast tracking.

However, this is where the problems start and insanity prevails. He finally achieves the rank of Commander, and someone, no doubt, his angel on high, decides to transfer him over to the ‘field operations’ side, presumably to broaden his career credentials. Here’s a guy who knows absolutely nothing about investigation or evidence, dictating procedural moves and overseeing investigative methods and techniques used by seasoned investigators on major crimes. Furthermore, this guy fully believed that he should be even more involved with these units and their cases than his actual job description dictated. The lunacy here was that someone up the food chain was endorsing all this and allowing him to do it.

The man came barreling through the door and strutted through the squad room, passing through the maze of desks until he arrived at one old rickety wooden desk and chair, which were situated over on the far side of the room. Everything else had been replaced in the newer digs with those more modern style metal desks and swivel chairs. This old relic however, was left at the request of its’ present tenant, Detective John Cooper. He just didn’t want the change. They were like a good old pair of shoes to him, and because he had earned such high respect from both his superiors and his peers, he was given a little slack and allowed to keep them. John Cooper was thirty nine years old and had been on the job for eighteen years, the last nine in robbery/homicide.

Sinclair strode directly over to Cooper’s desk with obvious purpose. Cooper was sitting on one side, while his relatively new partner, Kelly McArthur sat across from him.

“Did you hear the good news, Detective?" Sinclair asked Cooper, puffing out his chest. “You mean about your surprise retirement party on Friday?" Cooper replied.

“No wise guy. I’m talking about how I’m now overseeing this office and its’ personnel, and you know what that means, my smart ass friend?” He asked. “I’ll tell you. It means that I’m going to be able to watch you twenty-four seven, you son of a bitch. You are going to slip up somewhere big man, and when you do, I’m going to be all over you, hear me? All... over... you!” He had continued. He had spoken in a low enough tone, so that only those very close by might hear. One of those who did was his partner. Kelly was about to jump in and say something when Sinclair turned on her right away and introduced himself.

“Ahhh, McArthur, yes?” Sinclair asked, as he stood tall, folding his arms across his chest and staring directly into her eyes. He’d obviously done his homework.

“Yes Sir.”

“You’re reasonably new to the homicide squad I understand.” he said, now smiling at her. “Yes Sir.”

“Well then little lady. The first lesson’s free, so pay attention. I am Commander Sinclair, and I’m guessing that you’re liking it here in homicide, yes?”

She nodded, saying nothing.

“I think you are also probably aware that I could send you to the nether regions of this city writing parking tags, and you would never be seen or heard from again. This could all be done with just a simple stroke of my pen, because I actually have that power at my fingertips now. So, my young rookie investigator--” he continued with the smile now gone and replaced with a sneer. “--with that in mind, I think it would be a good idea if you just turned around and sat back down at your desk. You know, just kinda continue doing what it was that you were doing, and minding your own fucking business. What about that, little lady?” he said forcefully, while waving his hand back and forth dismissively towards her desk. “Now, you don’t seem like a stupid girl to me, so I’m guessing you will make the right decision here.”

Cooper jumped in. “Kel, leave it alone.” Cooper’s look told her all she needed to know. She sat down. Just then Captain James Bradley came out of his small, openly visual office, which bore the resemblance of a fish bowl. In fact, the gang often referred to Bradley as ‘Nemo’. Never to his face of course.

“Everything ok here?” He asked.

“Everything is just fine! I was just formally introducing myself to these two detectives. Then I was going to come into your office to get a quick update on these recent school girl murders. We don’t seem to be getting the results we expected from your unit and the victims are piling up, which makes me question whether we have the right team assigned to this investigation.” He was referring to the recent murders of two teenage girls over the past two weeks. They had both been students at one of the local catholic schools.

“Look Commander! These detectives are...”Bradley began to protest aggressively, but was cut off by Sinclair.

“My friend!” Sinclair interrupted, holding up his hand. “I believe I read in your personnel file that you were planning to retire in the next few months. That must give you a warm fuzzy feeling. I know with the recession and all, that there have been some cutbacks in manpower, along with a re-

deployment of personnel throughout the city. It would be a shame if you got caught up in all of that, especially with the short time you have remaining. I can assure you however, that I will try and protect you from that, but you can never be totally secure, right? Anyway, I’m sure you already know that economic downturns and restructuring can be very unpredictable and sometimes very cruel.” he concluded with a calm monotone voice that reeked of arrogance.

Bradley looked like someone who had just been punched in the gut. He knew exactly what Sinclair was saying, but found that he couldn’t muster up the once hard-assed bravado that had driven him throughout his career. Cooper could see it in his face. He seemed beaten and lost. Cooper looked at him with the friendly reassurance that all would be ok, but knowing realistically that it wouldn’t. Bradley had been on the force just shy of thirty years. His hundred and eighty pounds on a five foot nine inch frame, made him look a little paunchy, and years of drink had left him with a bulbous discolored nose and swarthy complexion. He had gone gray years earlier, with his hairline receding rapidly. His voice was deep and raspy from years of abuse, from both alcohol and cigarettes. Motivation of late may have been waning, but his loyalty to the unit had, and still was, without equal. He didn’t want anything to screw up the time that he had left before he could retire. He never liked Sinclair, but there was very little he could do.

Bradley turned and went back into his office, with an internal burn that could have lit up the harbor. He had been humiliated in front of the troops, and he wasn’t sure how they would feel about him now. That was unsettling for him. His pride had taken a major hit. He had to think about his pension, no matter what this prima donna wanted to throw at him. Once gone, he wouldn’t have to see or think about this asshole, ever again. ‘Just stay cool and move on.’ He said to himself.

Sinclair looked back to Cooper. “I’m sure we’ll talk again, Detective. There’s still a lot we have to discuss. Oh, and if I can help you with your investigation in any way, please, feel free to call.” He offered, and then finished sarcastically with. “By the way, I was very sorry to hear about your wife. That had to be very emotionally upsetting for you.”

Cooper’s wife Madeleine had passed away suddenly in the past year from cancer.

Cooper brought his six foot three inch, two hundred pound frame out of the squeaky old wooden chair, and walked slowly over to Sinclair, placing his face inches from his, where only he could hear.

“Listen, you sniveling little degenerate. You want to come after me, give it your best shot, but if you ever bring my wife into any discussion again, I guarantee that you will never see the next step of your precious fucking career, you got that?”

Sinclair’s eyes widened as he looked around to see if anyone else had overheard him. Sinclair knew this was no bluff, and he was visibly shaken. Cooper’s eyes stayed locked on his. After a few moments, Sinclair averted his gaze and was able to regain some of his composure. He smiled nervously as he stepped back, making his retreat. He ran his hand over his hair to make sure everything was still in place. It was more of a nervous reaction than anything else.

Cooper just watched him walk away and head towards Bradley’s office. There was no doubt that over the next five minutes, he would demean the man just a little more; just because he could!

Once Sinclair had left, Cooper walked into Bradley’s office.

“Cap! I know, and everyone else here knows that you’re a damn fine cop. We all know you’ve got our back, but you’ve got to lay low with that asshole. I know you’re feeling lousy right now, and I also know that you’re thinking of ways to get even, but I’m asking you as a friend Jimmy. Leave it alone. Don’t dance with him. He’ll mess you up and you know that. All those years of good work will have been for nothing.”

“I’d sure like to meet that smug little prick in an alley some time.”

“Look, I can handle this guy on my own, but not if I have to worry about him screwing over people close to me. This is a pissing contest between him and me; one that’s been going on for over five years now, and he thinks he’s just won a goddamned lottery with this latest promotion. He won’t think twice about jerking around anyone who tries to cover my back. So again, promise me you’ll just carry on, and leave it alone. You’re smart and you’ve earned what’s coming to you, so do what’s right for you. It’s our turn to have your back, yea? These guys here?” he said as he  waved his arm in a wide  arc to span the entire room. “They respect you, and everything you’ve done, so anything Sinclair says means nothing to them. You know that, right?”

After a few seconds Bradley nodded,........ reluctantly.

“I hear ya buddy, but I swear, that guy could piss off the Pope.” He said running his hands over his head. “I mean, what the hell did he ever do? Nothin, that’s what! Slippery little weasel.”

“Jimmy?” Cooper pleaded.

“Yea, yea.” He sighed. “But I’m telling you, if that lunatic comes at me again, all bets are off.” After a pause Cooper nodded his head. “Deal!”


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