Is Anyone Deserving of Death?

The following is a synopsis of James Paddock’s new mystery, Deserving of Death


“It was the best of days; it was the worst of nights.”

Deserving of Death opens with this somewhat familiar, or maybe not, line that keeps running through CJ Washburn’s head. He has worked himself into a frenzy because his girlfriend has gone missing, or so he thinks.

One might say that CJ Washburn is obsessed with Stella Summers.

“But at this particular time, this particular night, things weren’t so great.”

How could he not think to check his email or voice mail or not find the note she had left in his apartment? He runs to the scene of a body dump in fear that it is her, possibly the third victim in what appears to be turning into a serial killing rampage.

“Was she dead like the other victims, stuffed in a dumpster as though nothing more than last week’s hot chili tacos?”

Deserving of Death by James Paddock“And this guy calls himself a private investigator?” you might be thinking. A private investigator he is, and a good one at that. However, things certainly get worse before they get better. Women’s bodies keep turning up. He finds, or should I say, nearly passes out on top of the third victim, who turns the case into a Tucson, Arizona serial killing spree. By the fourth victim he becomes a person of interest; by the fifth, the prime suspect and the subject of a manhunt from the Idaho panhandle to Southern Arizona. Bodies continue to drop around him until his deepest fear is pushed upon him and his investigative skills are challenged at the highest level. In a message from the killer he learns that the next victim may be one of the women in his life. In the middle of the night CJ is visited in his “guarded” hospital room:

“Who are you?” CJ demanded of his midnight visitor.

“If you were Batman, I’d be The Joker.”


“Your sweetheart is with your daughter. Your guard, well, she’s getting what her father deserved. For right now the rest of your ladies are accounted for, except your ex, of course, but then she isn’t your lady anymore, is she? But what about that fine looking attorney. Is she one of your ladies, too?”

“Why are you doing this? What did I do to you?”

“Nothing… to me.” He looked out into the hall then turned back to CJ. “When you stopped being a cop, you should have stopped meddling in cop business.”

CJ’s daughter, his girlfriend, his attorney or his ex-wife. Who is the next target of this deranged killer?

So… who is this Clinton Joshua Washburn, private investigator? Because of the razing he got when Bill Clinton was president, he resorted to simply CJ. Only Stella is allowed to call him anything else and even she knows Clinton is out of bounds. She calls him Clint. CJ Washburn is an ex-Tucson police officer who left the force to save his marriage, hanging his PI shingle. The marriage dissolved anyway, but the PI business still struggles along, surviving on serving subpoenas for Pima County and the City of Tucson, proving or disproving the faithfulness of spouses, and tracking down deadbeat dads.

As with most divorces, there are kids and sometimes the kids aren’t very happy about the turn of events. CJ’s son, Josh is just such a kid and at 19, one year after CJ and Pat split up, he walks away from them, not to be heard from for six years. And then he finds out that his daughter, Trish, has always known where Josh was. He has to ask:

“Is he still angry?” CJ asked his daughter.

“Of course he’s still angry, Dad.” She let loose of his hand and her voice went up an octave. “Hell, I’m still angry. You and Mom getting divorced wasn’t part of the big plan. We were a happy family and then we weren’t. It was like you guys flipped a switch without consulting us first. It came completely out of the blue. Sure, Mom was a bit weird but as long as she was our mom that was okay. Now she’s not only more weird, or weirder, if that’s a word, but she’s also someone else’s mom, and we have step-siblings who demand her immediate attention more than we ever did. And you started becoming weird, too, with quitting the police force and trying to start your own private eye business. You got obsessed with that and then the divorce happened and your children fell by the wayside. I sort of adapted, but Josh did not. That’s why he took off. He couldn’t deal with it anymore.”

When Josh does return, CJ is the prime suspect in the serial killings, not the best time, you would think, to try and patch over old wounds. Isn’t it odd how life can throw us surprises now and then?

Does it have a happy ending? you might wonder. Well, that sort of depends on one’s point of view now, doesn’t it? Happiness or lack thereof is subjective and relative.

Quotes about Deserving of Death from reviewers:

Alliji “God’s girl” –  “This book is multi-layered, smoothly written and tucked into the heart of the action is a great love story.”

REgina – “Deserving of Death is a wild ride of suspense and heart pounding action.”

Vonda Norwood – “This author has an easy style of writing and tells one heck of a GREAT mystery!!!”

Where can Deserving of Death be found?

From Desert Bookshelf you can go to your favorite eBook or paperback retailer or… directly to to download to your Kindle or Kindle app.



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