Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Retired Cop Thickens His Own Plots Former Investigator Now Chases Odd Characters for Mystery Novel

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Retired Cop Thickens His Own Plots Former Investigator Now Chases Odd Characters for Mystery Novel

Article excerpt

Deputies Mark Jacobs and Sidney Davis have never patrolled local streets, but they've stood ready for service in the mind of Steven Richardson for more than a year.

Richardson, a former lieutenant with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, took up creative writing after his retirement in 1996. The two deputies, main players in Richardson's new crime novel, are among dozens of characters he dreamed of writing about for nearly 30 years.

"I found writing a wonderful way to express the various thoughts and ideas I'd had over the years," said Richardson, 50. "But this is something that I always thought my wife would do."

Donna, his wife of 29 years, taught English and is now pursuing her doctorate. Richardson said he always assumed she'd write about the characters he'd create.

Instead, he found himself nestled in their cozy study, creating story plots and pounding on a keyboard.

"Call it an overactive imagination," he said. "But I had so many things bouncing around in my head and I was always asking the question, 'what if?'"

In the fall of 1997, Richardson began a year-long quest to write the murder mystery.

In the novel, Crossing the Chalk Line, the main characters, both deputies born in the fictional Florida county they vowed to protect, seek retribution for the murder of a fellow officer by altering crime scene evidence. Richardson said it's a situation he never encountered during his career on the streets of Jacksonville.

"I'd always wondered what could happen with physical evidence when officers try to right wrongs the wrong way," he said. "I just started writing down one logical step after another."

A 25-year career in law enforcement, including stints as an evidence technician, homicide investigator and forgery detective, gave him the insight necessary to create an authentic scenario, he said. …

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