Excerpt for Clearwater Witness by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Clearwater Witness


Al Rennie


For my wife


And to all the kind and supportive readers of the Clearwater Series.

Copyright © 2017 by Al Rennie

All Rights Reserved.

Cover Credit: Rita Toews – probably the most caring, patient and inventive cover creator ever!

Cover Image Credit: Edd Jenkins

Formatting Credit: Lucinda K. Campbell – as always, just great … thank you!

Due to a long distance move and job change for one editor and an artistic dispute with another, I have been reduced to having only three excellent editors on my team. At their current rate of pay, I may be down to no editors shortly. It might be difficult for anyone to believe that, as a former English teacher, I would ever need five editors. The scoop is that the three remaining ones are looking for yet another one. Hurt my feelings, why don’t you? And how is that for a confidence builder? In any case, the three remaining editors, Gail, Ben and Donna have once again returned to make my life miserable but your reading experience that much better. I’d like to thank them for their masterful work in editing yet another episode of The Clearwater Series.

The Tim Horton gift cards are in the mail … hold on, what Gift Cards?

Nancy’s Amendment to Annie’s Amendment – she’s blonde!

This is the Clearwater Series in the sequence that the titles were written.

The Clearwater Series in the sequence the titles were written.

1) Clearwater Journals

2) Clearwater Diaries

3) Clearwater Ambush

4) Clearwater Abduction

5) Clearwater Heat

6) Clearwater Kiss Off

7) Clearwater Showdown

8) Clearwater Magic

9) Clearwater Intrigue

10) Clearwater Danger

11) Clearwater Predator

12) Clearwater Extortion

13) Clearwater Killer

14) Clearwater Oops!

15) Clearwater Crazy

16) Clearwater Undercover

17) Clearwater Hunter

18) Clearwater Justice

19) Clearwater Skip Trace

20) Clearwater Assault

21) Clearwater Folly

22) Clearwater Homesick

23) Clearwater Hustle

24) Clearwater Stakeout

25) Clearwater Fit

26) Clearwater Double Cross

27) Clearwater Vice

28) Clearwater Escape

29) Clearwater Bubba

30) Clearwater Betrayal

31) Clearwater Penalty

32) Clearwater Deception

33) Clearwater Confession

34) Clearwater Promises

35) Clearwater Nemesis

36) Clearwater Glitz

37) Clearwater Mirage

38) Clearwater Witness

Note to Joe and Mia fans

In today’s glutted writing environment, reader ratings and reviews can make a huge difference in the success of an indie author. If, as a reader, you have enjoyed a particular book, please take a few moments of your time to give it a favorable rating, and if you are so inclined, a positive short review. Your affirming assessment will mean a great deal to the author and to his or her chances of survival in the current literary marketplace.

A very few Reader Responses to Clearwater Series:

On the advice of the critics, editors and Ellen, I have limited the number of reader responses to a few of the more recent ones. The suggestion was that no one reads them anyway. I know that I do. Apologies go out to those critics who didn’t make the cut.

Al Rennie is still rocking in the world according to Doc!!! I eagerly await each new book and I am not disappointed. This one has another current story line which lets you know that the author is on his toes and doing his homework. I am very glad that the youngest little fellow is finally being brought into the house....good move. Keep on writing Al Rennie and we will keep on buying, reading and enjoying. I have read many stand alone books and many series and this series rates right up there in the top two. Al Rennie rocks!!! M.M.S.

Al Rennie's Clearwater series always gets a 5 star rating from me. This series never gets old (even after the 32nd book), and the stories are clever and funny with mystery, thrills, and sometimes even a little sadness thrown and romance the Joe and Mia way. Start at the beginning and read it, you won’t be able to put it down. Sharon R.

I love all of the Clearwater series books. Al you have created another great book that I will be thinking about for quite some time. I love that you brought out bullying, a lot of that going on. My sister's granddaughter was just bullied at school this past week. She nipped it in the bud. Lol All the jokes we're great, love each and every character in the book. If we all were more like Joe Holliday, this world would be a better place as he always wants to give everyone a fair chance. You bring each character in to grab our attention from the first chapter Until the End. Great read, can't wait for the next book. Bonnie W.

Oh Wow. Clearwater Confessions is awesome. I have read every book in the Clearwater series and they are absolutely my favorite books to read. Mr. Rennie is such an amazing writer and scores another hit with Clearwater Confessions. This story keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Joe and his guys search for a missing girl, stop an incident in a Starbucks, find a meth lab, along with lots of other adventures that make you laugh, hold your breath, and not be able to stop reading till the end. Mr. Rennie gives us characters we love with Joe and his chips crew, his great family along with his brother Frank. Thanks Mr. Rennie, I can't wait for the next story. Merle

I love this series. The stories make me laugh, cry, and dream of adventures. I am always excited for the next one.

I am always so excited to pre-order my books from you, Clearwater Confessions did not disappoint! I have to tell you that this series is the only series that I can read the book in a day and a half because it is so hard to put down. I have to force myself to slow down and savor every word. My husband says, ‘lets take a trip to Canada, eh”? I love the story line of how Joe and Mia build their little, or should I say big family. The story line of Mrs. F and Ken Jackson had me on edge, but I love the riding in and shooting Joe’s way in to rescue them. I will be impatiently waiting for your next installment of Joe and Mia.

Thanks Bubba and my B&N card is ready for the next pre-order. I will be watching for it!

I wish to thank Mr. Al Rennie for the complete Valentine gift package. I am just waiting for the T. V. Series to come along. I have seen television series without this much so together. The writing and the plot (plots) are exiting and oh no, what could possibly go wrong. Ha, ha, ha. The character development has reached a point that we know each and every one of them, and love them, even the bad guys. I love bad guys. Every red blooded woman wants a bad guy, even if he is really just a bad boy. I will not give a spoiler, but, the whole book is an exciting read. The editing is professional and outstanding. The plot flows seamlessly and makes one wish there was a bag of popcorn and soda handy. One drawback, the next one is not out. I look forward to see what my Clearwater and their extended family is up to and what is the next "speed bump" they will have to hop over. Only Doc would call a dire situation a speed bump. Please, Mr. Rennie, keep writing. The suspense is killing your audience. Next stop, ladies and gentlemen, The New York Times Best Seller List!

I have enjoyed and waited in anticipation of every adventure with Joe and Mia and Max and Frank and Fred and Jeremy and all CHIPs fellow cohorts in the Clearwater series. I have read Best Sellers and Mainline authors in the Publishing world but these books are the ones that make me laugh, cry, hold my breath, and surprise me. I would be extremely unhappy if they stopped coming anytime soon. Please wait a little longer before you retire them and become a jockey, race car driver or whatever. Anything other writing these books would totally bore you to death!!

Cindy B

Clearwater Nemesis is the 35th addition to Mr. Rennie's Clearwater Series. I would highly recommend this series. First Mr Rennie is one great storyteller. All 35 books of the Clearwater Series are easy reading, action packed, populated with memorable characters, loaded with humor and filled with clever twists. I look forward to each new addition. Keep them coming Al, if possible write faster! You are becoming the Mark Twain of Canadian writers! E.J.

Hi Mr. Rennie, Once again you nailed it with Clearwater Penalty. You have an amazing sense of timing and a creativity that can’t be topped. I read about 100 books a year and you are by far my favorite author. I am thrilled by your ability to keep me engrossed by every one of your books. I appreciate Grisham, Brown, Balducci and many others; however, you are the guy that keeps me coming back as soon as you next book is released. You have an unbelievable gift and don’t let anything or anyone discourage you from “entertaining” your public. Thank you once again. Nancy

Love the books, can’t put them down and I even find myself slipping into some of the phrases!!! Not sure that will always be a good thing though! Carol

I found you first on Smashwords; after that, I kept hitting the buy button in iTunes. I laughed, cried, and told my patients how I almost went to You Tube to look for your video. I see patients in long term care facilities. I have shared your stories and with my patients living on the seawall in Galveston, Tx. You have brought life, love and a bit of silliness into the lives of my patients and have made me a better practitioner. I am forever in your debt. Katherine

Thanks Al for another chapter (Clearwater Hustle) in the lives of my favourite imaginary friends. I'll go and put some stars and comments on iBooks which is where I get my copies. Anthony Templeman

Double Cross is the most complex and surprising book yet. The plot lines completely surprised me and I loved the twists and turns. His ability to describe scenes made me feel like I was right there in Florida! Best of all, his ability to create in-depth characters and make me care about them is a rare gift and makes his books so much more enjoyable.

If you love slightly wacky mysteries, this book - in fact the whole Clearwater series - is a must read for you.

Hi, I have been a big fan since I discovered Joe and his family a few years ago. When I first began I could just order the next book as soon as I had finished the one I was reading but now I have to wait until the next one is written, weeks and weeks! So I have just spent the last fortnight (two weeks) rereading the entire series of 36 books back to back. Brilliant! I love the way Joe's family interact, and how he juggles all the elements of his life. Keep it up Mr Rennie. I will just have to manage until the next book comes out in July. I am hoping for at least 36 more and don't you dare kill Joe or any of his nearest and dearest off.—Jane

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

Exodus 20:16

For thou shall be His witness of what thou has seen and heard.

Acts 22:15


This was the day the sniper had been waiting for, for almost two years. The kills he had made before this would be nothing compared to what this one would mean to him. All of his training and all of his experience; all of his studying would be focused on the outcome of the next few hours. When that time had passed, and he had made the shot, his life would never be the same. He knew that to be true, but he didn’t regret it. Not for a second … He would be the man who killed Abdel Aziz Kassad ... the Imam of Hate.

A sniper is trained to de-humanize his target. That is why, after the identification has been confirmed, he or she is referred to only as ‘the target’. Omar wasn’t about to apply that neutral reductive term to this kill. This one was personal … very personal. It had been Kassad who had been the Imam teaching his hatred doctrine that all infidels must be destroyed. It was Kassad who taught that anyone who didn’t believe as he believed - and that was in the strict application of Sharia Law – be it Christian, Jew, another Muslim - whoever was an infidel and should not be permitted to live. It was the ‘jihadist’s duty’ to take those lives. The Holy War was at hand. It was Abdel Kassad who the sniper blamed for the beheading of his older brother, Atif. And what had been his brother’s crime? What heinous sin had Atif committed? His brother had committed the crime of selling cigarettes, not drugs, only cigarettes. How incredibly stupid was that? But that was Kassad’s interpretation of Sharia law. And that was why, two years ago, his brother had been executed. Impossible … and yet Omar had been told by a family friend who had been in the square that day that that’s exactly what had happened. His brother, Atif, had been dragged to the square in Raqqa, blindfolded and in his turn, beheaded. Omar could blame the executioner or the society that would permit this atrocity to take place, and he did, but he wanted the one person he knew by name … the one person he knew who inculcated the death ideology. He wanted Imam Abdel Aziz Kassad. Luckily, that’s when he had contacted someone who knew him very well and that was when this proposal had been made and this scheme had been born.

The ‘someone’ had sat with Omar and told him things that he knew to be true. You cannot kill the message of hate, the message that was Sharia Law, but, over a period of time, you can destroy the messengers who teach this hate.

“And perhaps, Omar, if enough of the messengers are denied the right to live, as they would deny the rights of others to live, there will not be any more messengers and common sense will replace the nihilistic chaos that exists in the Middle-East now. We must fight back, but not as the enemy wants to fight. Not to create the Holy War they want so badly … but to restore order in all society and respect for all mankind.”

The weapon, a McMillan TAC 50, was not what Omar had used when he had been in the Special Forces. That weapons system had been an effective one, no doubt about it. But it was a coarse blunt instrument compared to the surgical precision this weapon offered. The TAC 50, made in Canada, held the record for the longest kill at more than three thousand yards. The bullet had taken ten seconds to reach its target. The shot that Omar had to make was less than half that distance and he had a far better scope. Omar had spent hours on a rural property owned by his friend becoming familiar with every nuance the TAC 50 had to offer both with and without the expensive Leupold scope. Omar was not worried about how his weapon would perform. What he was concerned about right now was getting that brief window, that fraction of a second, where Kassad would be exposed … out in the open. He needed the Imam of Death in that window long enough for him to make the shot and avenge his brother, Atif.

Omar had studied Kassad’s agenda that the ‘someone’ had provided. He knew that the Imam had been enticed to visit the U.S.A. using counterfeit documents. A small cadre of loyal followers were keeping him safely out of sight between his engagements. He was here to raise money and teach his brand of faith in the hopes of creating new ‘home grown’ jihadists. In a ‘drop’ made weeks ago, Omar had been given the agenda identifying when and where the Imam was going to be speaking while he was in the United States. The sniper had studied those sites and knew what hurdle each location presented to taking his shot. Omar had finally settled on Tampa where the hate Imam was scheduled to address a small number of wealthy and potentially sympathetic members of the Tampa Mosque on Sligh Avenue. The two fires that had occurred in suburban Tampa mosques earlier this year, both ruled as being the result of arson, had worried the Arab community. A few of the younger men and women were anxious to hear Kassad’s message. That was the message that had been given to the Imam.

And now, here was Omar set up in an empty office building with the window open two feet in front of the muzzle of the TAC 50. He was lying out on an office table that he had spent time carefully positioning. He had slanted it to the correct position with stacked books borrowed from the shelves. He was patiently waiting for that special moment. He took a sip of water from his bottle and looked through the scope for any sign that Imam Kassad would arrive before the appointed time. Like any experienced sniper, Omar could wait for as long as it took. He set the small photograph of Atif on the table to his left and remembered his brother when they had been boys playing soccer and laughing together. Beside the picture of his brother was an unnecessary one, supplied by his contacts. It was a photo of Imam Kassad when he had been in Mosul only one year earlier.

A black Chrysler turned off Sligh Avenue and glided to a stop on the parking lot in front of the raised entrance to the beautifully constructed mosque. There were only fifteen or sixteen people there waiting for the Imam to arrive. Evidently, the teacher of hate was not as popular a guest as Omar’s contact had suspected. The shot should not be a problem for Omar. There would be no collateral damage. Collateral damage, either, injured or killed, was not acceptable.

The small group moved forward to greet their guest. Kassad met them with the arrogant pride of a sports celebrity or a rock star. There was some small talk and pointing at the beautiful mosque before the party started up the wide steps to the entrance. Half way up the stairs, Abdel Kassad stopped and turned to look down at the Chrysler that had brought him here. He seemed about to speak. Suddenly, he jerked backward and landed heavily on his back sprawled out on the stairs.

Someone screamed and then someone else yelled “Run!” but Omar was already breaking down his weapon and preparing to leave the office building. His brother, Atif, had been avenged.

Chapter 1

Monday, June 12th, 2017 – An old Friend

Monday has never been one of those fast out of the blocks days. Often the CHIPs guys and gal sit on the top deck, which doubles infrequently as a helicopter pad, and catch up with the events of their weekends. Most often, the boss, that would be me, gets there late and has to fill in the blanks that he missed while he was sleeping in. The gal, that would be Natalie, usually lazily pedals an exercise bike that we moved up there for her while she reads her Bible and does her quiet time or listens to religious music on her headphones. Lately, she has found Audio Sermons on her i-Pad, so they too have become part of her routine. Her current favorite preacher is some guy in Scotland. She’s trying to convince Billy Ray that they should go to Scotland so that they could play at some of the world famous golf courses. She hasn’t fooled the big guy yet, but she’s getting close. Whenever our language or Luke’s war stories get a little raw, she cranks up the volume on her headphones and drowns us out. Now that she’s four or five months pregnant, she has abandoned the stationary bike in favour of a lounge chair and her sermons. Makes sense to me …

All of us usually have one thing or another we could be doing productively, but waiting idly for Mrs. F to return from her meeting with Bob Morse at his office in St. Pete’s Beach has become the norm in the days of the quiet off-season. Morse will lead Mrs. F through the tasks he would like us to work on during the coming days and weeks in preparation for his busy criminal law demands and she in turn will pass them along to us according to the skills or assets each of us brings to the job. This morning the chatter among us seemed to focus on the arrest this past weekend of a sniper dude from the Middle-East. The guy had shot and killed some visiting Muslim Imam right in front of the mosque in Tampa. The weird part of the arrest was that this pro sniper and former elite forces army veteran had been busted almost immediately by a rookie cop who stumbled upon the guy making his escape. Luke, a former decorated veteran himself, was in total disbelief.

“It could never happen I tell you. A kid, only a few years out of high school, gets the drop on this guy. And then the sniper dude just turns over his weapons and surrenders. There’s got to be something missing there.”

“It happened, Luke … the papers don’t lie,” Billy Ray said like he had been there and then written the story.

“Uh, huh, I don’t buy it. If this guy is as good as it sounds, he could have had that kid cop for breakfast. Like I said, there’s something wrong there.”

Lincoln, only a few years out of high school himself had something to say about that.

“No … you old guys get fat and slow. It happened, Luke; I saw the report on CNN.”

“Then maybe Trump’s right – fake news. And who are you calling fat and slow, Junior?”

“Don’t get me started on Trump …”

That little disagreement might have turned into a wrestling match in which the older – and not fat at all and definitely not slow - veteran would have easily and quickly overwhelmed the kid had we not been interrupted by a reedy female voice from the main deck. It was a voice that sounded very familiar to me.

“Hello … is there anybody here?”

I jumped up grateful that I wasn’t going to have to be a referee in the ‘Luke schools the bejesus out of Lincoln tussle’ and looked down the stairs to see my old librarian bud dressed to the nines looking back up at me.

“Ida May … Holy fricken smackers! Is that really you?”

“It is, Joseph … I just came by to say hello. And watch your language young man …”

I was down the stairs in a shot to give my original partner’s wife a hug. Fred Cooper and I had set up CHIPs with Ida May as our researcher and secretary and treasurer and a host of other things she did to keep us going in the right direction. Before she joined us, she had been the head librarian when the City of Clearwater had a satellite branch on the beach. I eased off on the hug a little when I realized how frail she had become.

“Come on up to the top deck, I’ll introduce you to the crew. You know some of them anyway.”

“I almost fell into the water coming across the floaters, Joseph. I don’t think I have another flight of stairs in me right now.”

“No problem, let’s go to my office. You can sit down and catch your breath in the air conditioning I have going on in there. The guys and gal can meet you there and we can have a chat. Can I get you a tea or coffee? I can get Jeremy to make you an espresso or latte. You wouldn’t believe the set-up he has. He could put Starbucks out of business.”

“No, I’m fine, dear. I expected to see Debby. Is she still working for you? Over the last few months, we’ve lost touch with each other.”

“Yup, only it’s more like I’m working for her. I’ll tell you all about it when we sit down. How are you keeping and do you have any plans?”

“Let me just sit down, and I’ll tell you everything.”

I offered to sit with Ida on my leather couch that Billy Ray often flakes out on, but she told me at her age she preferred something a little more firm. When we were sitting across from each other at my desk, my old friend told me that her sister had died a few weeks ago. Ida had left Florida to care for her ailing sister in Ohio a couple of years ago. After I offered my belated condolences, Ida told me that she had returned to Florida because she didn’t think she could face another northern winter. I mentioned that I completely understood her rationale. She gave me a warm smile by way of remembering me complaining about the frozen Canadian winters when we first met. She asked about Mia and was surprised that my little family had grown to the size it had. Four foster kids can make a change in your life in a hurry.

As we talked various members of my crew stuck their heads through the door to say ‘hi’ or introduce themselves if they had started working after Ida had retired. In a not so subtle turn in our conversation, we arrived at what had finally brought my old librarian bud to my doorstep.

“I’d like to live down here again, Joe but Clearwater has become so very expensive. I went through most of the money Coop and I had while I was looking after my sister. She didn’t have a good drug plan and she needed so many prescriptions. I guess it will be worse for a lot of folks if Mr. Trump and the Republicans get their way.”

“I’ve read about the projections. Twenty-three million people without any health care. It’s not a pretty picture if you’re on the wrong end of that teeter-totter.”

“Could you hire me, Joseph? I still have good research skills and I know my way around a keyboard. I don’t know how long I have, but while I can still be useful, I’d like …”

“Absolutely … and I can get Mia to find you a nice place to live. In fact, you can stay in our Crescent Beach condo until we find you what you want.”

“You were always generous, dear. That would be lovely. I can start working right away.”

At that moment Mrs. F came on board and when she heard Ida May’s voice, old home week started in earnest. Years ago now, Ida May had introduced me to a member of her bridge club, Mrs. F, who was looking for a challenging job. Fred had hired Debby Finelli without knowing much about her and she and Ida May had worked together for CHIPs when Fred and I had just started to do well. Then Frank and I resolved our differences and Bob Morse hired Chips as his primary investigators. We have never looked back. When Fred decided to retire after a bout with cancer, I bought out his share in the company. His wife - that would be Ida May - travelled with him and the two of them had a good few years before Coop passed away. Right after that, her sister needed her and Ida fell off my map except for a Christmas card or two.

The three of us sat and reminisced for a few minutes and then Mrs. F said we all had too much work to do to be sitting around. There was a missing person situation that we had started mid-last week. Billy and Natalie would carry on with that one backed up by Jeremy and his bag of computer tricks. There were papers to be served, none of them of the high risk variety, so Lincoln would take those on with Titus if the young guy showed up for work. We could always call on Zed if we lagged behind. Luke was writing up a report on an insurance scam that we had taken on as the season slowed. When that was finished, he could pick up on looking for a witness Bob Morse wanted to interview. I was thinking that I would work on my tan right up until Mrs. F told me that Bob wanted me or Ken Jackson to meet him to discuss a major case he had just been approached to take on. Ken was on part-time status. According to Mrs. F, who had an on-again off-again relationship with the retired Canadian Deputy Police Chief, Jackson was loving the adventure of learning all the tricks of fishing for grouper while business was so slow. For that reason, it looked like I would be Bob’s huckleberry discussing this new case after lunch today.

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