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Dead in the Water

Dead in the Water

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Dead in the Water

170 pagine
2 ore
Feb 2, 2011


While in Hawaii Our young Navy Lieutenant, JC Shelby and his wife Susan, are urged by their boss, the Fleet Admiral at Pearl Harbor, to assist an old cold war adversary, the captain of a Russian passenger ship now on a Circle of Fire cruise, in solving the murder of one of the ships officers. The case turns out to be far more complex than a simple act of violence. Money and unrequited love play a role. The Russian skipper, retired from the Navy, risks a peaceful retirement to a clime warmer than Siberia where he had spent his Navy career. The adventure carries them from Hawaii to the Galapagos, Ecuador, Papeete, and finally New Zealand

Feb 2, 2011

Informazioni sull'autore

Hood’s eighth fictional work and fifth in the series featuring JC and Susan Shelby, detectives. The author, a Coloradoan, WW2 Navy vet, aerospace engineer, Navy scientist and a teacher at San Diego State University of business, science, and physics, now in retirement, has time for his passion for telling tales.

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Anteprima del libro

Dead in the Water - Johnny Mack Hood


Chapter 1

Lieutenant Jeremiah Cuthbert Shelby should not have been uneasy sitting on his own front porch. Everything was going his way. He had a beautiful and loving wife, Susan, and a cushy job here in Hawaii as an aide to a four star Admiral, Colby S. ‘Speedy’ Gonzales. His and Susan’s last caper had been relatively free of real danger. It’s true that Susan had gotten lost and injured in a vast miles-long lava tube on the Big Island, but that was par for the course with her. And they had driven off a cliff on the Pali, saved by a large tree. It was marginally better than his chasing off to St. Petersburg, Russia, from London to rescue her during their second case. The thing that was bothering him here in these beautiful islands was the quiet—the peace—the lack of urgency—of danger. Maybe it was the fact that the case had been wrapped up and was in other hands and neither he nor Susan really had anything to do. He knew deep down it couldn’t last. He had asked for it when he asked for her to help him get into that vault back at the college in Avon. That was when the magic was created. That was when he and that darling woman had fallen in love and had decided to make a life together. The magic had a strong component of intrigue, mystery and death. It seemed to find them no matter where they went. Why fight it? Relax! Wait for it to come.

Susan emerged from the interior of their small apartment, part of a standard fourplex that seems to be typical throughout the country for officers’ on-base quarters. Here the accommodations didn’t seem quite so ordinary, surrounded as they were by the lush foliage and flowers of Oahu. Who could complain about living in the nearest thing to paradise in the fifty states? JC, how’s the back? Had any twinges lately? she asked preparing to settle down in on a wicker chaise next to him.

‘The back’ was a story in itself. JC had finished the enlisted part of his tour of the Navy a couple years ago prior to his and Susan’s meeting in Avon, Iowa. Although he was a tall and very handsome dark-haired blue-eyed Adonis he did have a major physical weakness, chronic seasickness. Near the end of his short earlier naval career he had vomited on the deck of a rolling cruiser, slipped in the mess and broken his back. This resulted in his sitting at a typewriter at JAG headquarters here at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base for a long period of recuperation—then discharge. It was the Admiral’s corpse that marshaled him back into service with a special commission as full lieutenant. The corpse, of course, not the Admiral but was the gardener that had been discovered in the Admiral’s flowerbeds. The Admiral knew he and Susan might be very clever detectives. He had heard about their exploits and knew that earlier JC had been an undiscovered talent at JAG as an enlisted yeoman during his recovery. At that time JC had made unofficial comments on a number of criminal cases for which he had typed briefs that had been very helpful. Actually he and Susan had proved to be at least lucky at Avon College in Iowa and in London.

Twinges, or no twinges Susan’s appearance on the scene cured all. Hi, sweetheart. I feel just great. He stood and gave her a crushing embrace and a kiss and asked, How about we go into town for a meal tonight? We need to celebrate a little after our triumph with the Admiral’s deadly little problem.

JC, don’t be flip. Admiral Gonzales has treated us like royalty. We owe him a lot. Besides the corpse wasn’t his. He had nothing to do with it.

JC showed appropriate chagrin. I’m sorry. I guess we do owe him. He gave a real boost to our career. I just thought I wouldn’t be boosted into the Navy. I had visions of being a Private Eye, hanging up a shingle somewhere, putting my feet up on the desk, with a cigarette dangling from my mouth He laughed. You could be the sleek bimbo in the tight skirt that comes in the door with a problem and a fistful of cash and trouble. You could do it every morning just to get the day properly started. My abiding fear is that he might find some small naval vessel headed for the North Sea to which he might assign me.

Susan grinned and punched him. You are a nut, JC. I love you. Then she got down to business. We might just do that, the dinner in town, but first it’s early afternoon and the Admiral’s office called. He would like to have a chat with you today about five. He’s got staff meetings until then. We do work here, you know.

JC knew it was too good to continue. Maybe the idyllic times needed to end. He had an unshakable feeling that the chat with the Admiral would be neither good nor bad it would simply be fate—fate for him and Susan. What else could it be?


Promptly at five JC presented himself at the door of the Admiral’s office. The Marine guard saluted and held the door open for him.

Admiral Gonzales rose from behind his desk with a broad grin and held out his hand. JC saluted and returned the smile. Admiral Gonzales had achieved his tag as ‘Speedy’ in Vietnam as a Navy fighter pilot, reprimanded on several occasions for unnecessarily wasting precious fuel in the afterburner mode on missions over North Vietnam. He was a small man, about five nine, and his Latin heritage four generations back was barely detectable in his dark hair and features. At first glance his appearance belied his qualifications to command approximately half of America’s sea power. His skill in international negotiations with potential rivals for control of the seas was legendary. JC felt privileged to have been able to help solve the messy problem here in Pearl.

The Admiral asked him to be seated on the nearby couch. He joined him at the conversation nook, which was meant to put his visitors at ease. An orderly appeared. The Admiral asked for coffee to be brought then he turned to JC, I’ve got a surprise for you, for the both of you actually. I know you will enjoy it. He raised one eyebrow and tried to look mysterious.

JC had mixed feelings. This could be good or bad. He hoped it wouldn’t be sea duty. Yes sir. We are at loose ends right now. I was wondering…

Wonder no more, my lad. You and Susan are in for the time of your lives. And you will be doing your country a great service.

JC still felt a little nervous. He could not imagine what he might be qualified for other than going back into the typing pool over at JAG. That would hardly be appropriate for a full lieutenant. He knew that there was a real danger in underestimating this man. Whatever it was it was bound to be a challenge. The coffee arrived and the two of them busied themselves with dosing it up with sugar and cream.

Then Admiral Gonzales said, I have a man I want you to meet. He has just arrived here in Oahu. I’ve asked him to meet us here tomorrow morning. I think you might be of some real assistance to him. The Admiral hesitated for a long ten seconds looking down at his cup then said, It is a somewhat touchy business. You and Susan will have to accompany him on his further journeys and, I’m afraid, reassume your role as civilians.

JC perked up at this. Hmm, a spy role…more down the road of the old PI business. Sounds good. Yes sir. We might like that. Can you tell me a little about him?

The Admiral laughed. You know I like to torture folks just a little. I think I will let you find out all about it tomorrow morning. Just you be here on time. Bring Susan if you like. He got up and signaled the short meeting at an end. I still have work to do. You and Susan have a good evening. Ruth sends her best by the way. Be sure and tell Susan. With that the Admiral jovially escorted JC to the door and shooed him out into the hall.


When JC arrived home Susan was anxiously awaiting him on the front porch. Well, what’s up? What did the Admiral say?

JC laughed, He said to give you his and Ruth’s best.

Susan pouted in mock anger, Don’t be funny sweetie pie. I want to know what hare we hounds are about to pursue. Susan liked for them to play the parts of her favorite detective pair, Nick and Nora Charles of ‘Thin Man’ fame. The only thing missing was the little dog Asta. She hadn’t got around to remembering that yet. JC secretly hoped she wouldn’t. Care of a pet would be far too confining. At the moment JC definitely did not consider himself a dog person - or a cat person for that matter. Somehow that had to be reserved for their old age – if they ever got there.

Susan, my sweet, I’m afraid the Admiral is toying with us. He wouldn’t say. You and I are to be in his office tomorrow morning to meet a mysterious unnamed gentleman.

Susan literally glowed with excitement. She could hardly wait for morning. It made for a miserable evening.


Promptly at eight the next morning the Shelbys presented themselves at the door to the Admiral’s outer office. The Marine gave them a big grin and waved them in. He gave the impression he knew more than they. Susan wondered what it might be. The Admiral’s personal secretary also gave them a big grin and pointed to the door to the inner office. As they passed her desk she said, Boy, are you the lucky ones. She also seemed to know more than they.

Chapter 2

JC removed his hat as they entered the Admiral’s office. The Admiral and his guest were seated in the conversation corner of his spacious office, a tray of coffee service between them on the low table. Admiral Gonzales rose to his feet and extended a hand to JC and to Susan. JC took his hand and said, Good morning, sir.

Sit down Lieutenant and Mrs. Shelby. He gestured to his guest who had also risen from his seat. I want you to meet my old friend Captain Oleg Gavinov.

Gavinov gave a genial smile and put out his hand. JC shook it briefly and wondered, Captain of what? The man had on a uniform but it was totally unfamiliar to JC. The visitor appeared to be about 60 years old, very fit. He was of a stocky build, broad shoulders, a short neck topped with a square face adorned with a short full beard and mustache. His age was tipped off by the appearance of a slight sag in the jowls. JC guessed he was about five foot seven in height and appeared to weigh about one ninety. His weight was concentrated in his chest and shoulders and not around his waist – evidence of an active and rigorous physical life – undoubtedly a life at sea.

The Admiral continued while pouring out coffee for the two arrivals, I’ve been telling Oleg about our recent adventure here at headquarters. I gave him a run down on your history. He handed the cups across the table to Susan and JC. He came by to see me and to ask for a little help. The Admiral grinned, seeming to enjoy continuing the mystery a little longer. Nobody from my staff was available, he hesitated, well, I mean except you two. He looked up in mock dismay. Don’t get me wrong. I might have found something else for you but I sincerely hoped I would not. We’ve had enough dark deeds around here for awhile.

Captain Gavinov smiled broadly through this short spiel of the Admiral’s and finally broke his silence, Very nice to meet you Lieutenant and Mrs. Shelby. If all Speedy says is true we will have a fine time together for awhile. He turned to Gonzales and remarked, Maybe should tell them who I am and what’s in store for them.

JC’s heart began to sink. The man was clearly a seagoing person. If this was the beginning of a close relationship it probably meant riding with this gentleman on some sort of ocean vessel. It was obvious he was about to receive orders from his boss and it probably meant taking to the waves. My god! Please not! He was in real distress and Susan could sense it. She gave him a little nudge and a big grin, hoping to get him down to earth.

The Admiral could see the discomfort on JC’s face and hastened to reassure him. "JC, don’t be alarmed. I know your problem. I think you will survive this in good shape. It might be the making of your seagoing career in fact.

"Captain Gavinov is an old acquaintance of mine—even a friend I might add. He and I had staff duties for our respective commands a long time ago when the Russian Navy and ours had some tense issues over operations in the North Pacific. Both of us

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