Meet the Geezer Squad
By Lauren Carr
The second installment in the much-loved Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries, Winter Frost is scheduled for release January 28--Today! It is now available for preorder! Readers and reviewers have immediately fallen in love with the protagonist Chris Matheson and his allies, The Geezer Squad. Below, learn about how Lauren Carr conceived this motley crew and who she’d envision playing them on the big or little screen.
Doing new stuff is always exciting.
Granted, as the author of three mystery series, I have enjoyed diving into my series characters, exploring their psyches, and watching them grow. It’s very much like being a parent. Since I average three mysteries a year, I considered my plate full with a new release for each series every year.
Truthfully, I was not looking for inspiration for a new series when Chris Matheson and the Geezer Squad came crashing into my life.
One evening, I was looking for a good mystery to watch on Netflix when I happened upon a true crime series entitled The Keepers, which explored the unsolved 1969 murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik in Baltimore, Maryland. As fascinating as this series is (and I do recommend it to any mystery lover), as a writer, I was drawn to the “detectives” investigating this cold case. They were former students of the victim. Now, decades later, retired, they were each using their individual skills to solve this case that keeps them up at night.
For example, the outgoing former student would meet and talk to potential witnesses. The bookish one would scour the newspaper archives in the library.
I couldn’t get the concept out of my mind. The writer in me twisted and turned the idea. In a matter of days, the Geezer Squad—a group of law enforcement retirees who work those cold cases that keeps them up at night barged into my imagination. This pushy group of retirees practically upended my current work-in-progress. Surprisingly, I discovered during my research that some police departments actually have Geezer Squads working on contract—retirees tasked with working cold cases.
You will notice that I have named my new series The Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. A retired FBI agent, my protagonist is a young retiree. Chris is in his mid-forties and the single father of three little girls. His wife died in a terrorist attack in Nice, France (more about that in Winter Frost). After the sudden death of his father, a retired state police captain, Chris returns home to the family farm to live with his mother, a library director.
At his mother’s insistence, Chris agrees to attend a book club meeting at the library with Elliott, one of his late father’s friends. Since the club is made up of law enforcement retirees, his mother, Doris believes he would make some new friends.
As you can see from this excerpt from Ice (the first installment in this series), she had no idea!
Chris watched Helen hurry out into the cold. A gust of wind ruffled her hair while she yanked open the door and climbed into the car.
“Why didn’t you ask her out?” Jacqui called over to break the memories of adolescent romance flowing through Chris’s mind.
“Why is it that every time a man admires a hot woman, people think they should immediately slip between the sheets?” Elliott asked.
Meanwhile, Bruce was pouring red wine into a goblet. His muscular frame and sun kissed face indicated long days working in his vineyard. Peering at Chris with green eyes, he held out the glass to him. “Taste and tell me what you think, Christopher.”
While Chris tested the wine, Jacqui waved her arm to indicate the work room behind Doris’s office. “I didn’t ask why he didn’t take her into the back room and hook up with her here and now. I asked why he didn’t ask her out. I was thinking about lunch. Your mind went straight to sex.”
Disregarding his colleagues’ conversation, Bruce stared at Chris. “Well?”
“It’s good.” He picked up a cracker which he covered with a slice of cheese from the tray.
“Maybe he didn’t want to be pushy.” Elliott handed a paper plate to Chris. “It isn’t like he doesn’t know where to find her. Her daughter works here.”
Chris set his copy of the book down on the table to fill his plate with Swedish meatballs, and cheese and crackers.
“Good?” Bruce’s expression was similar to that of a man who had just lost his job, home, and family. “He said it was… good?”
Cursing under her breath, Jacqui struggled in setting up the computer and monitor for the remote hook up. Ray snapped instructions to her from a speaker phone.
Sitting down to eat, Chris noticed that he was the only one who had a copy of the book that Elliott had said they were covering that evening. Everyone else had folders and binders.
Must be some heavy-duty reading group.
“Screw it, Jacqui!” Ray said. “Where’s Francine?”
“I’m right here, Ray.” A short woman dressed in a thick winter coat with a furry hat pulled down over her ears ran in from the side entrance. She dumped a book bag thick with folders and notebooks into a chair. “Sorry I’m late!”
With a sigh of relief, Jacqui backed away from the equipment. She moved on to fill a plate with cheese and crackers.
“The internet went out at home just as I was leaving,” — Francine checked the settings and pressed buttons on the keyboard — “and my grandson promptly became mildly hysterical. Luckily, all I had to do was reboot the system.”
Jacqui took a sip of white wine from a goblet. With a grin, she held up the glass in a toast. “This Sauvignon Blanc is lovely, Bruce. Delicate but strong. Its sweet taste compliments the hearty boldness of the cheese. Yet, it’s not a wimpy wine either.”
“So you don’t think it’s good?” Bruce shot a glance in Chris’s direction.
Elliott took the seat between Chris and the vineyard owner. “Now, Bruce, not all of us are wine enthusiasts.”
“I said it was good,” Chris said, “which is a compliment.”
“Yeah,” Jacqui said, “he could have said it was bad.”
The face of a man with a gray beard and thick eyeglasses filled the computer monitor.
“Hey, Ray!” the members of the book group called out almost in unison.
“Nice to see you guys, too.” Ray saluted them. Abruptly, his smile dropped. “Who’s the kid?”
Francine spun around to notice Chris on the other side of the table. A broad grin crossed her wide face. “Well, it’s about time we got a touch of class.”
“Kind of young if you ask me,” Ray said with a grumble.
“This is Kirk’s boy, Chris,” Elliott said. “He’s retired FBI.”
“He’s forty-five,” Jacqui said.
“Forty-six,” Chris corrected her.
“Still not even fifty.”
“I’ve got underwear older than he is,” Ray said.
“And he doesn’t know anything about wine,” Bruce said.
“I said it was good. Look, I had no idea this book club was so selective about new members.” Chris started to stand up.
With a hand on his shoulder, Francine, who had rushed to move her seat next to his, shoved him back into his chair. “Elliott says he’s retired FBI. That’s good enough for me.” She leaned over to whisper in his ear. “I’ll do the talking, sweet cheeks. You just keep sitting there looking handsome.” With a salacious grin, she admired his attractive features and let out a moan of pleasure.
“Chris is Kirk’s son,” Elliott said. “Doris suggested that I invite him to—”
“That explains everything,” Jacqui said with a heavy sigh.
“What explains everything?” Chris asked.
“Doris,” Jacqui said. “Elliott can’t say no to Doris Matheson.”
“I can so say no to her,” Elliott said. “As a matter of a fact I said no to her just today.”
“In reference to what?” Francine asked.
“She asked if I’d gotten a haircut.” Elliott raised his voice to be heard over their laughter. “But that’s not important. Point is, Kirk was our founder, which means Chris here has a right to be a member of our group. Our primary rule for membership is retired law enforcement. Chris is retired FBI. If that doesn’t allow him in, then what does?”
“His retirement is basically only a technicality,” Jacqui said. “He’s too young. Some agency or contractor will make him an offer and he’ll be back out there talking about the Geezer Squad.”
“I’ve said nothing to him about the Geezer Squad,” Elliott said with a crooked grin.
“What’s the Geezer Squad?” Chris asked.
“Hey!” Bruce sat up straight in his seat. “What’s the number one rule about the Geezer Squad?”
“Never talk about the Geezer Squad,” the group, including Ray on the monitor, said in unison.
One interview question that befuddled me is, “What actors do you envision playing your characters?” Truthfully, when I write a book, I don’t see celebrities playing any of the characters. They come to life as unique personalities all their own. For this reason, I’m stumped.
However, for this guest post, I have done some “casting calls” and found some celebrities who I can see playing the Geezers.
Christopher Matheson (Chris): Played by Mark Walhberg. Chris Matheson made his career in the FBI working undercover in a variety of covers. From what I have seen, Mark Walhberg is a very versatile actor who has played a wide variety of roles. I’ve seen Walhberg playing roles from sophisticate businessman to oil rig operator. A retired FBI agent, Chris takes care of his family farm, and I have no problem seeing Mark Walhberg cleaning a horse stall.
Francine Duncan: (Played by Bernadette Peters) Francine is a retired investigative journalist from the Associated Press. Divorced children and grandchildren living with her. Fast talking, she’s a scrappy character who isn’t easily intimidated. In Ice, when Chris leaves the library to follow up on a lead, she jumps up and follows without being invited. Short, she wears big sweaters and hats that she pulls down to cover her ears. She is not a clothes horse. Also, as you see in this excerpt, she has a great appreciation for attractive men. I can see Bernadette Peters with all of her curly hair flying out from under her hat while checking out Chris’s buns as he walks away. Bernadette can easily deliver Francine’s fast-talking lines with great comic timing.
Jacqui Guilfoyle (played by Jamie Lee Curtis): Retired medical examiner from Pennsylvania. Widowed with no children. Lives alone in an elegant home on a mountaintop overlooking Shenandoah Valley. Jacqui is demure and classy. She is described in the Geezer Squad as having long blond hair and being very attractive. Yes, Jamie Lee Curtis has short gray hair, but the more important trait about Jacqui is her intellect and sophistication. Jamie Lee Curtis carries these traits off so well.
Ray Nolan: Played by Wallace Shawn: This Geezer established the cyberwarfare task force after 9/11. He was shot in the back by a homegrown terrorist and is now wheelchair bound. He lives with his daughter (who shot and killed the terrorist in a Chuck E. Cheese parking lot) and her family. His daughter is one soccer mom you never want to mess with. Many of you may not know Wallace Shawn, the actor I have chosen for this part. But I bet when you see his picture you will know him. Wallace Shawn is one of those faces that you recognize but not the name. He’s got a distinctive voice and terrific comic timing, which is Ray’s strong suit.
Elliott Prescott: Played by Sean Connery: Founding member of the Geezer Squad. He could tell you what he did before he retired, but then he’d have to kill you. Elliott Prescott’s past is a mystery. In Ice, he reveals a lot of knowledge about the drug trade and how they operate in the area. In Winter Frost, he tells a suspect that he’s with the U.S. Marshals. He’s mysterious and masculine. But he’s got a very soft spot for Doris, the widow of one of his best friends. In Ice, he shows up at a black-tie benefit to sweep Doris off her feet—so James Bond. So, it was only natural that a former James Bond would play him.
Doris Matheson (played by Michelle Pfeiffer): Chris’s mother is not included in the excerpt above, but she plays a big role in the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries, and figures prominently in the Geezer Squad. Doris is a sixty-five-year-old ageless beauty—much like Michelle Pfeiffer. It is revealed in Ice that she is a former Miss West Virginia who purposely threw the Miss America pageant so that she could marry Chris’s father. (Chris was born six months later.) She’snot your average beauty queen. Doris is independent, strong, and intelligent. A take charge type of woman, she starts snapping orders when a woman goes into early labor. When the woman assumes she’s a nurse, she replies that she isn’t, but she did read about how to deliver a baby in a book.
These actors listed are not who I was envisioning while writing the Geezer Squad books. So, when you pick up one of my Geezer Squad mysteries (and I hope you do!), or if you have already read Ice and can think of someone else playing your favorite Geezers, then let me know in the comments section of this blog. It will be fun knowing who you would like to see in a Geezer Squad movie!