The latest Story Bundle is called “Racing the Clock,” and it’s available for another seventeen days. It includes a ton of fast-paced stories, including my Super City Police Department novel The Case of the Claw.
I first conceived the SCPD back in the early 2000s, originally wanting to do it as a comic book. I’d actually been in discussions with both Darick Robertson and Mike Collins at different times about providing the art chores. But we were never able to make it work.
The concept behind the SCPD goes back to when I first started reading superhero comics and wondering what happens next. I mean, okay, Batman punches Joker in the nose and hands him off to Commissioner Gordon — then what? He has to be arrested, prosecuted, and so on. And it’s not like Batman’s gonna fill out a witness statement or testify in court. (“Please state your name for the record.” “I’m Batman.” That won’t happen…)
Both my love of superheroes and my love of police procedurals have their origin in television watching of my formative years. My first exposure to superheroes was The Electric Company, a brilliant educational kids show in the 1970s (it featured folks like Morgan Freeman, Joan Rivers, Tom Lehrer, Rita Moreno, Mel Brooks, and many more), which had licensed Spider-Man from Marvel, doing live-action Spidey adventures. That led me to reading comic books (starting with Marvel’s Electric Company tie-in comic called Spidey Super Stories) and also watching reruns of The Adventures of Superman and the Adam West Batman.
As for cops, what got me into that was first Barney Miller and then Hill Street Blues. Both shows utterly captivated me, and led me to my continued study of police procedure and interest in writing cops.
And I always wondered, what’s life like for a cop in Gotham City or Metropolis or the Marvel version of New York City?
So I wrote it. I’m hardly the first — there’s the brilliant comic book Gotham Central from the 2000s, as well as Alan Moore’s Top 10 and Brian Michael Bendis’s Powers — but I have my own little take on it. I try very hard to approach them as cop stories first. The superheroes are incidental, though very much part of the fabric.
I also have always found it important in general to show what the ground-level consequences are of big-picture happenings. I’m less interested in the big-ass battle that levels buildings, I’m more interested in what happened to the people inside that building after it was leveled.
Which is why we see, for example, Officer Trevor Baptiste, who is in a long-standing legal battle over compensation for the death of his wife. She was on a job interview in an office building that was vaporized in a superhero battle — but there’s no proof that she was in the building, because she wasn’t an employee, and the records of her entry into the building (sign-in sheet and computer) were also vaporized, so the insurance company is refusing to pay.
It’s also why it’s sometimes hard to get a judge to sign a warrant to get a DNA sample when it involves a costumed hero because they don’t have a real name for the person. Even if the DNA they take from the guy in a costume matches what they have to compare it to, if they go to arrest him, there’s no proof that the guy in the costume is the same one they took the DNA from, because of his keeping his identity secret. They need his real name, which they can’t get without violating his fourth- and fifth-amendment rights.
The Case of the Claw is the first of many stories featuring the Super City Police Department, though the others are all shorter-form. I’ve written two (so far) stories in the milieu, “Stone Cold Whodunit” in the 2014 Dark Quest Books anthology With Great Power and “Send in the Clones” in the 2015 eSpec Books anthology The Side of Good/The Side of Evil.
And the sequels to The Case of the Claw can be found in novella form. Three are available now as eBooks from Bastei eBooks: Avenging Amethyst, Undercover Blues, and Secret Identities, which came out in 2016 & 2017. And I’ve got four more novellas under contract with Falstaff Books, which I hope to have out starting next year.
So check out the “Racing the Clock” Story Bundle and get to know Captain Garcia, Lieutenant Zimmerman, Detective MacAvoy, Detective Milewski, Officer Baptiste, Officer Fontaine, Officer O’Malley, Officer Fiorello, and the rest of the SCPD. For $15 or more (you pay what you want), you get The Case of the Claw along with eight other great, fast-paced novels by Mike Baron, Lauryn Christopher, Robert Jeschonek, Kari Kilgore, Jeffrey J. Mariotte, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, and Sam Stone, plus a Fiction River Presents anthology edited by Allyson Longueira featuring stories by JC Andrijeski, Thomas K. Carpenter, Scott William Carter, Dayle A. Dermatis, Brendan DuBois, Dan C. Duval, Steven Mohan Jr., Eric Stocklassa, and Rusch and Smith. (For less than $15, you just get the anthology and the novels by Christopher, Kilgore, and Stone.)