Chief Callie Morgan of Edisto Beach and Carolina Slade, each with a series of their own meet up in DYING ON EDISTO- today we get to chat with them both.
SKYE: Chief Morgan, I understand you grew up in South Carolina and spent much of your time on Edisto in the beach house you now call home. How did you end up working as a cop on the Boston PD in New England?
CALLIE: Youthful defiance maybe? My father was a politician, my mother a social gadfly in a town where everyone knew my family’s business. I wanted none of that life. But I guess public service was in my blood, because I earned a Criminal Justice degree from the University of South Carolina. That’s where I met my husband John Morgan, and I followed him back to his hometown of Boston, where nobody would know my name. He was a US Marshall. I worked for Boston PD, ultimately becoming a detective.
SKYE: Do you miss the hustle and pace of both life and work in a city like Boston? By contrast Edisto must seem pretty laid back and quiet.
CALLIE: In some ways I do. Places to eat, lots of interesting people, the Red Sox (though Boston doesn’t do football like the South, that’s for sure), but I don’t miss the crime rate. At the time I lived there, I enjoyed the busy-ness of it all, and my job kept me hopping overtime most days. But the seedy underside of that city killed my husband, which soured my desire to remain there. Everything I liked is now tainted. Long story, but I was a mess when I left there with a teenager in tow. My father forced me to Edisto in his subtle way, telling me to get my head on straight. He knew what he was doing. That sand and water are a part of me now. Do I use all my training? No. But I do catch things earlier than the force used to, because of my past in Boston. Guess I have the best of both worlds in me now.
SKYE: Ms. Slade, until recently I think the two of you had not met. Certainly, your line of work would not normally cross paths with the police chief on Edisto Island. How did you get involved in the work you do? And how is it, you seem to trip over mysteries no one else ever suspects?
SLADE: My grandparents operated a cotton farm in Mississippi, and I loved visiting them each summer. Later I gravitated to Clemson (Go Tigers! National Championship 2001, 2016, and 2018!) and got a degree in agriculture. Of course, that meant USDA employment. But it wasn’t until a farmer offered me a bribe did I get a taste of investigations. Like Callie, I have a long story, but mine was about solving an investigation without losing my job, my life, heck, even my kids got kidnapped. When I nailed that case I was hooked, and Agriculture created a job for me to investigate all the time. Bummer! LOL Trip over mysteries, you say? LOL again. Guess you could call it that. After my indoctrination into the world of federal agents and the criminal element, I don’t trust so easily anymore. I see things, maybe ponder stuff deeper. Hell, I don’t know. My partner Wayne is a federal agent, and he can’t put a finger on it either. (Callie laughing.) I come out okay in the end, which I hope is a long-time habit. The alternative might be a little scary, so guess I like to think I’ll always win. Makes me misstep at times, but I land on my feet because I give myself no other option.
SKYE: Ms. Slade, I’m curious – I never thought much about the Department of Agriculture or what it does, but I’d never have guessed it would present that kind of danger. The kind that would get your kids kidnapped. You must have been terrified, never mind what they went through. I hope they’ve adjusted and are doing okay now. But tell me, what kinds of things do you investigate?
SLADE: If I had a dime for every time somebody said that about Ag. Listen. Agriculture at the federal level doles out a ton of bucks. As much as VA. More than Education and Transportation. Wherever there’s money, there’s crime, and if you don’t understand the rural community, you don’t know how to spot the scams. I can spot things my agent friend Wayne never thought of. Farmers faking what they bought with loans. Taking government subsidies and using them for personal use. . . cars, vacation, or if you want to really get funky with it, drugs, bootleg items, firearms, and equity scams. Money’s money, honey, and it attracts such wicked people.
SKYE: As I mentioned earlier, your worlds are very different: Different place, different job. How did you two ladies meet?
CALLIE: Oh Lord, that’s a story.
SLADE: (Arms up to the side, shrugging.) Hey, I just went on vacation with Wayne. Just happened that we chose Edisto Island. I grew up an hour away, and used to go to that beach as a kid.
CALLIE: You just gave away that Wayne’s more than your partner, silly. She does that, you know. Talks and talks until she slips up. We met during a murder case. We had a new B&B on the island, and Miss Priss here came down to learn how to weave baskets. (Laughing.)
SLADE: Laugh all you want. I found the body.
CALLIE: You didn’t find anything. You stumbled, then stumbled again. Destroyed that crime scene to smithereens.
SLADE: We solved the case, didn’t we?
CALLIE: (Smiling at her friend.) That we did.
SKYE: Is there anything either of you ladies would like your fans to know about your newest adventure?
SLADE: Well, it turned into the weirdest vacation I ever had. I decided I don’t want to live within ten miles of salt water and will never go in a boat again.
CALLIE: And I learned there’s stuff that’ll kill you in the woods, thanks to this lady who gets off on all things green. An agriculture investigator. Who’d have thought? I mean, what kind of law is broken with farmers?
SLADE: Way more than you know, girl. The country isn’t just populated with dumb farmers in straw hats like everyone thinks. So I earned some respect, huh? Me and my plant knowledge?
CALLIE: You did, Slade. Opened my eyes big time.
SLADE: And I wondered what the hell (excuse my French) the beach police does more than stop golf carts and deal with drunks. Guess there are some skills there, too.
SKYE: Are there things going on in your lives that never gets mentioned in any of the stories that you’d like to share?
SLADE: What else is there? My world is an open book. Just ask anyone who knows me.
CALLIE: And my life is on a need to know basis. What you don’t learn in the stories doesn’t need to be said.
SLADE: (Watching Callie introspectively.) I still need to get you to loosen up some more, girl.
SKYE: I want to thank you both for taking time out of your busy lives to talk to us today. We can all hope that you both have a peaceful summer without any dead bodies showing up or farmers getting up to mischief. But I have to admit that I am looking forward to your next adventure, whatever it might be, or wherever it might take you. Thank you for coming in.
If my readers enjoyed this interview, be sure to look up the books you haven’t read and get caught up. Dying on Edisto features both Ms Carolina Slade and Chief Callie Morgan and is available everywhere.