Milton’s Take.

When Max and Skip won the Powerball, the department came unhinged. A lot of people thought that Max would just stay around to see if he could get fired and how long it would take them to do it. Everybody pretty much figured Skip wouldn’t even go to the trouble of quitting, he just wouldn’t come into work anymore, Skip being the passive-aggressive one and Max the type to poke the hornet’s nest a little first. But that didn’t happen. They came in together, turned in their thirty-day notice, and then immediately started burning their vacation, sick leave and comp time. And then they just disappeared for a while.

A few people on the PD were glad to be rid of them. They had made some enemies in the twenty years that they had been there. Most didn’t care either way, and there were a few that would truly miss them. I guess I fall into that last category. Max was my training officer when I first came to the department and I liked him from the get-go. When he left, I was a little lonely out there on patrol. So when I heard that there were a couple of private investigators setting up shop out on Mortenson road and those two private investigators were none other than Max Mosbey and Skip Murray, I ran right over to check it out.

I’ll admit that I was taken aback when I walked through the door of the G&B Detective Agency and ran right into Monica Benson sitting there at the reception desk. She knew who I was as soon as I came through the door, of course. She gave me that big welcoming smile of hers that she had used to melt the hearts of those schmucks who used to sit in the front row when she was stripping on stage. I smiled back like I’d never gotten a smile from a pretty girl before. I was almost embarrassed that I smiled so big. Max and Skip were not there that day. Monica didn’t know where they were or when they were coming back. She didn’t seem to care, either. We chatted a bit about Max, Skip, the agency and about herself, for quite a while, then she chased me out the door, locked it up, and headed off to class at ISU.

Anyway, I started stopping in to visit a couple times a week, if I happened to be diving by on patrol and I saw Monica’s car parked out front. After a while I was coming in every day in the morning before she left for class and I would have a cup of coffee with her. I really like talking to her. And her kid is just as cute as they come. She’s going to grow up to be just a gorgeous as her mother, no doubt about that. Just as smart too.

Now, I’ll be the first to say that I was a little dubious about those guys hiring an ex-stripper to be their receptionist, but I also know Max and Skip pretty well, and I figured that they knew quite well what they were doing and it wasn’t any of my business. Over the months that passed, I realized that they picked Monica for good reasons. She was street smart, book smart, pretty reliable, and about as loyal to Max and Skip as anyone could be. You didn’t walk into G&B Detective Agency and speak disparagingly about either one of them without Monica showing you the door and giving you a hard kick in the ass on the way out. When it came to those two, Monica wasn’t messing around. And I started to respect her for that. She convinced me that they had no reason to worry about Monica running the front office.

So as far as Max and Skip are concerned, well it is nice to see them once in a while, if they are in when I stop. Sometimes they push pretty hard to get some information from my resources at the PD, especially when they got wrangled into actually working a case. For some guys that are supposed to be my friends, they don’t seem to mind putting me on the spot. If I won’t tell them something they get Monica to bat those sweet brown eyes of hers and give me that smile, all while she’s compromising me into leaking some confidential information that those two want. But all in all, they don’t get me in too much trouble, and the look of satisfaction that Monica gets on her face when she finally pries something out of me that I’m not supposed to be telling, it makes it worth the game.

Monica Speaks


Skip comes in early every morning, puts on a pot of coffee, goes into his office and starts looking at the overnight stock exchanges. He reads the Wall Street Journal front page to back. Almost every day Max shows up later. Usually he has been across the street at Filo’s coffee shop. I don’t know why he goes over there to drink coffee when Skip has a pot on here, but he does. Skip takes a lot more interest in their investments than Max does. I think Max realizes that Skip keeps on top of the markets and just lets him do it. We meet regularly with the financial advisor. When we get done Skip will always go to his office and review everything. Max will always follow me up to my desk and ask me if I understood it all. If I just tell him yes, he will leave me alone. If I tell him that I didn’t understand everything, he has to get into this big discussion about what he doesn’t understand and start asking me questions that I can’t answer. Kind of like he is convinced that if I can just see how much he doesn’t understand, it will help me understand it all better. I just say that I understand it, even if I don’t.

I don’t really have much to do with the financials, other than the running of the agency, and for that I get a budget that I have to stay within. As for the rest of the investments, I just collect the documents and sort them out so that they can go to the financial advisor before the meeting. I keep them all in a file cabinet in Skip’s office. He feels like if they are in his office he is the CEO or something. Every once in a while Max will go over there and start sorting through everything in the hopes that he will get some sort of financial epiphany.

They also have a lawyer who comes in regularly. Honestly, I think that she is keeping an eye on me, and you know what? That doesn’t bother me. Hopefully she will catch anything that might get past me, and that can’t hurt. When you are sitting on top of a two-hundred-twenty-million-dollar Powerball empire, some checks and balances are a good thing. Anyway, she is a very nice person and I think that she likes the guys almost as much as I do. So we get along pretty well.




I really like working for the guys at the agency. I call it the agency, or I just tell people that I work for a detective agency. I can’t bring myself to call it “G&B Detective Agency.” Do you know what G&B stands for? Guns and blades! Come on. Everyone askes me, “what does G&B stand for?” and I have to tell them, “guns and blades.” Uh, yeah, I work for Guns and Blades Detective Agency. I just think that they could have come up with a little more businesslike name. But it is a good place to work, and the guys treat me great. They treat my daughter Essie great, too. She loves the heck out of both of them. They’re sweethearts.

I feel like my job is to keep them on track. They both tend to do things without thinking, especially Max. Skip thinks that he is more on top of everything than Max is, but he isn’t. The biggest thing that I do is screen the calls that they get. They don’t want to work. I know: why even have a detective agency if you aren’t going to take cases? Because they don’t know anything else. I mean, they could open a cupcake bakery and not make cupcakes so they had somewhere to hang out all day, but that wouldn’t work because they don’t know jack about cupcakes. At least they know something about being detectives. So they have a detective agency that doesn’t take cases.

So back to the calls: when you win the Powerball, you get real popular. We get our fair share of scammers. I know they are scammers because they sound like scammers. You can spot a scammer a mile away. Haha, just joking. I sound like Delbert. Seriously, scammers are tricky, but I’m pretty good at hanging up on them. Then there are people looking for the guys to invest in some business venture. At first I used to listen to their pitches. There are some pretty creative people out there trying to make a buck. I used to like to hear what they had come up with, but honestly, the guys are not venture capitalists. It takes a particular business acumen to be a VC, and the guys just don’t have it in them. It is better for them to stay away from things like that. Commodities too: sometimes Skip starts thinking he is some kind of investment genius and starts looking at commodities futures. The nice thing is that he always comes up and runs it by me before he does anything, and I shut him down as quick as I can. I try not to be subtle about it. He needs to know that it isn’t a good idea. The financial and investment adviser and I keep a close eye on Skip.

Then there are the people looking for help. Those are the hard ones. Some of those are scammers, most are legit. The problem is who is who and where do you draw the line? So around Christmas every year, I sit down with the guys and we decide what charitable giving we are going to do for the following year. Then we give ‘til it hurts. That’s what Max says. It actually doesn’t hurt, it feels good. And once we get that all down on paper, that’s that. Of course, I can’t keep them from writing a check to the Boys and Girls club or the Battered Women’s Shelter, but those are just smaller donations, and it is good for the guys to be reminded that a little bit here and there can help someone out a lot. I actually fudge that into the charitable giving budget each year. But for the most part, I play the bad guy for them and screen the calls.

Who are Max and Skip?

Who are Max and Skip? I really don’t know. I have started this blog post a half-dozen times and not gotten anywhere with it, and I don’t usually get writer’s block. They just don’t want to talk about it. Max and Skip are two police officers who worked together on the same department for twenty years. They bought a Powerball ticket in the early hours of a Saturday morning for that evening’s drawing and hit the jackpot. They took a break for a while, they got bored, they wanted a place to get out of the house, so they started a detective agency. They hired an ex stripper for their receptionist, and the story goes on from there.

Probably the most important thing to understand about Max and Skip, and all the characters in the books, is that the story is not about them, but about the cases that they get roped into. They were created to tell the stories, but now they are constantly up to something. All the characters in the books live lives over which I have limited control, and my job is to tell their story. With all the characters in the books, as time goes by I continue to get to know each of them better, and for me, that is the most exciting part.

While on Routine Patrol

When Skip started on the police department he had just graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Max started on the police department just shy of a month later and at the same time was enrolled in classes at Iowa State University on the GI Bill, studying English and planning to go on to law school when he graduated.

In those days the city was divided into seven areas, six of them patrolled by one officer, and the seventh patrolled by a team of two. Area one encompassed the northeast portion of the town, bound by Elwood Ave. and Stang Road on the west, Lincolnway on the south, and the city limits both other directions. Area two lay south of area one, but overlapped it on the north side, bound by sixth street. That provided patrol in the downtown bar area by two officers instead of the customary one area officer. Areas three and four lay west of one and two and extended to the city limits on the west. Areas five and six covered the entire city. Five was technically area relief, and six was technically a utility officer, but both served to cover for the other area cars when they were otherwise occupied. Because Iowa State University took up a big portion of territory in the center of areas three and four, and because ISU had their own police to patrol the campus, most of the time the area four car covered both area four and area three. Finally, area seven was patrolled buy a team of two officers. They worked the bars in town, twenty-seven of them at one counting. Dog town, which bordered on the campus of ISU, was two blocks of bars that served the college community. Then there was downtown, where there were more blocks of bars that served the rest of the community and the few college students who made their way to them. The officers parked their patrol car and walked bar to bar downtown and dog town. Then the two officers took to their car and prowled the outlying hotel bars, country western bars and the strip bars scattered around town. Shifts and areas were bid yearly by officer seniority.

So on any given day the patrol shift consisted of five officers, and one Sergeant who supervised them. There were three shifts: 0700hrs to 1500hrs, 1500hrs to 2300hrs and night shift from 2300hrs until 0700hrs the following morning. Each shift had a total of eleven officers working six days on duty three days off, five days on and two off, which made their days off rotate throughout the year, providing the city with patrol officers seven days a week, three hundred sixty-five days a year. Area seven officers worked from 2000hrs until 0400hrs, eight at night until four in the morning, Tuesday through Saturday, with Sundays and Mondays and holidays off. By the time Skip and Max won the lottery they had attained enough seniority to find them working shift seven with little chance of being bumped off it at the yearly bid.

Iowa Powerball Winners Announced

Des Moines, IA; Winners of last week’s 346 million dollar Powerball lottery come forward.

Max Mosbey and Harlan Murray of Ames presented their winning Powerball ticket to lottery officials in Des Moines yesterday afternoon. They both are Police Officers on the Ames Police Department. Mosbey spoke for the two, saying that they purchased the ticket at the Quick Trip on Duff Ave. in Ames. When asked what they planned to do now, Mosbey said that the only plan that he had was to turn in his resignations to the police department. The two elected to take the cash payout and will receive a 220 million dollar payday.