Where did Columbo 2.0 come from and why is he part of the West River Mystery Series? That was the question I asked myself while developing a backstory for a new character who debuts in See Jane Dig! (That’s Book 4 if you’re keeping track.) The new character is the Tipperary County Deputy Sheriff. He was mentioned in both See Jane Run! and See Jane Sing! but remained nameless and never made an appearance. The same thing is true of See Jane Dance!, which will be released in the fall of 2023.
More on that in an upcoming post.
During the planning session for See Jane Dig!, my editor and I decided the time had come to rectify the situation. The elusive deputy deserved to show up and be named. My good intention went no further until April of 2023 when Hiram and I were on the road. We stopped for lunch at the Zapp Thai restaurant in Greenfield, Indiana. The place was crowded and while we waited for the server, who was being run off her feet, to take our order I opened my composition notebook and began brainstorming names.
My only criteria for the deputy was that his surname was Italian.
Mainly because two homesteaders who came to northwest South Dakota in the early 1900s were Italian. They had a big family, and many of their descendants remain in the area to this day. I wanted the series to reflect their presence. After the server took our order I did an internet search for and found the Italian derivative of a certain English name. It’s a bit of a spoiler, so you’ll have to wait until Book 4 to learn what it is. Next I searched for popular Italian surnames and Columbo popped up.
What could be better than naming Tipperary County’s lawman after television’s most rumpled detective?
Once Deputy Columbo had a name, the details for his backstory began to flow. Some are riffs on the original:
- My guy wears a western duster instead of a trench coat.
- He chews tobacco instead of a cigar.
- His appearance is rumpled.
- He is underwhelming at first glance.
Other details are unique to Columbo 2.0:
- He loves animals and takes his dog everywhere.
- He’s lazy, except when it comes to hunting and fishing.
- He has a family and is a devoted father.
- He’s late to everything.
So where did Columbo 2.0 come from?
I guess you could say he began at the very busy Zapp Thai restaurant in Greenfield, Indiana. Hiram and I encourage you to eat there if you’re ever in the area. The food was some of the best we’ve ever had, and the prices were reasonable. After you pay the bill and tip the overworked server generously, look around someone who resembles Columbo 2.0.
I found him there. Maybe you will too.
Photo Credit: Created by Prawny for Pixabay