They say write what you know.
I know some weird stuff, I guess. . .
It was just a house fire. I went because it was six blocks from my house and nearly Christmas. I was a reporter for one of Chicago’s all-news radio stations and if decorative lights were the cause, that had story potential.
Other than a little smoke and a couple of hoses trailing into the building, there wasn’t much to see. I asked a neighbor across the street what was up. She’d noticed smoke pouring from the roof. No flames, just smoke. She called 9-1-1. Didn’t know if anyone was home. A very low key fire, I thought. Probably not enough damage to be newsworthy.
I asked a cop if there were any injuries. Standard reporter question. I expected the usual, “You got to talk to the Commander.” Or, just a, “No.”
Instead, he ordered me to get back in my car and leave. Weird. I saw no point in arguing that you can’t kick a reporter out if you let all the other civilians stick around. I headed for my car but wound up across the street, standing with the neighbors.
That was when I thought I smelled gasoline. Five minutes later, the first of the detectives showed up. Another fifteen minutes and who should appear but both the police chief and the fire chief. To a simple house fire? I knew the police chief. I asked him the same question I’d asked his officer. He said, “Nope, just the fire. Nobody hurt. No news here. You can go on home.” We had a history. I didn’t believe him.
A house fire with the smell of gasoline strong enough it reached my nose across the street. Detectives and both chiefs at the scene and more detectives arriving. Only one part of the cast was missing. I called a friend in the coroner’s office.
Shortly afterward, I went on the air with the first report about what turned out to be a torture murder/arson resulting from a homosexual love triangle.
The confrontation with the cops and the secrets they tried to keep started me thinking. Coincidentally, weeks later, home invaders hit my aunt and uncle’s house looking for valuable art. All they found was an elderly housekeeper but they beat her to death. I suddenly had my opening scene. Then I covered the search for two murder victims in a river under a bridge. And found the book’s title, Every Secret Crime , as part of a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote hanging in a detective squad room.
Doug has been shot at, driven cars at 110 miles per hour, arrested criminals and been in some hellacious fights. And it's safe to say that all of these adventures, while moonlighting as a deputy sheriff during college, prepared him well for his life's work as one of Chicago's finest crime reporters and author of the highly acclaimed Reno McCarthy crime novels. Doug began his twenty-five-year broadcasting career as a television investigative reporter before discovering his passion for the immediacy of news-radio. He worked as an anchor, reporter and talk-show host in Kansas, Missouri and downstate Illinois before settling in Chicago. In more than seventeen years as a crime and breaking news reporter for the former WMAQ Radio and then WGN Radio in Chicago, Doug received awards for his coverage of dozens of stories including murders, train crashes, fires, school shootings and tornadoes. His reports have been heard on every major network. Doug lives in suburban Chicago with his friend and colleague, Socks-Monster, the feline action-hero, who recently received rave reviews for his cameo role in Doug's second novel, Every Secret Crime. They are currently hard at work on Doug's next book.