Wm. Sharpe on Nick Caldwell

By Wm. Sharpe

Since Uncle Joe Is Dead came out, I have had the opportunity to talk to some friends who are also in arts or creative fields about the first two books. I am going to share some of those conversations.

One of the topics that comes up is Nick Caldwell as protagonist. I was asked recently, “What about this guy, is he a good guy or a bad guy?”

I think Nick is generally a good guy. but there is no doubt that he has a dark side. Nick is a guy that has suffered a tragedy; he has lost the most important person in his life, his child. This event changed him profoundly. Prior to the loss he was a “Boy Scout”; afterward he has become angry and bitter. Who he is angry at is simply everyone, starting with God and moving on through anyone who he believes is doing wrong. Nick has a code. In the second book, Justice Delayed, he helped the MacCarty family clear their brother’s name, and in the third book, Uncle Joe Is Dead, he helped a not-so-nice man get justice for the man’s very nice uncle. Nick likes to balance scales, help the underdogs and forgotten in the world, well at least in Chicago and the Midwest.

He is a private guy. He would rather stay home with his dog than go out. He is a fan of old noir films. Nick’s best friends are his business partner, Bart and Jonathon, Bart’s husband, Sinclair Stewart, a private detective from New Orleans and Mrs. Marbulls—but he is mostly afraid of her.

He is close to the team that he works with, but still there is a distance between them. The file on the death of his daughter is always on his desk and he reads it every morning; he works that case in some way every day.

He’s close to his family, but not that close. There are issues with his older brother and father, who look down on private investigators because they are not or were not part of the Chicago PD, you know real crime fighters.

The humor that we see in Nick is a façade; he uses it to keep people from getting close. His humor is gallows humor and at times can be biting just short of cruel. He doesn’t suffer fools well or silently.

Nick is haunted by what he had to do to save a life in Justice Delayed and he is glad that he got justice for Uncle Joe, but he was not happy with having to work with members of Joe’s family.

He thinks that the bravest thing that he does each day is not eat the barrel of his gun. He doesn’t do this for three reasons. 1. His daughter’s case is not solved. 2. Although he doesn’t practice his faith often, he doesn’t want to chance not being reunited with his daughter. He is hedging his bet on the existence of an eternity. 3. He doesn’t trust anyone but him to care for his dog.

He doesn’t like violence, but he will use it and God help you if you hurt a child or an animal. Johnny Depp is quoted a s saying something like, “Only children and dogs understand the concept of unconditional love.” Nick believes this.

The one truth he believes is that one day he will find the person or people responsible for the death of his child. That day he will be faced with a choice…bring them to justice or be their justice.

Nick is the kind of guy you would want to live in your neighborhood. You might want Nick as your next-door neighbor, but you might hope that he never knocks on your door to borrow sugar.

Finally, the question came up, “Is Nick Caldwell a dangerous person?” The only answer I have is I don’t know, I like him, but a better question might be, “What have you been up to lately?”

To honor Nick, this evening, I am going to sit on the couch with Baron and Ruby and watch a movie.