The Many Hats of Leanne Jones

By Judee Fong


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Private investigator, writer and musician Leanne Jones was replying to a group email with a friend about his experiences as a former CIA agent, when she noticed another recipient who answered a question with impressive clarity. Leanne recalls, "I emailed my friend and asked, 'Who is Edson Hendricks?' and he told me this was the man who had designed the first stages of the Internet. I thought, ‘Wow, there's a story!’"

Seizing the opportunity to find out more about this person, Leanne eventually made contact with the elusive and reclusive Mr. Hendricks. He was not interested in having his story told. It was only when Leanne mentioned she would write it as a children's book that Edson said, "That's benign. Let's do it."

It took three years for *It's Cool to be Clever* to come to fruition. An iPad app, with Edson narrating, is also available.

"There was so much material,” recalls Leanne. “The hardest part was getting the political and technical stuff readable and understood. I had to pare it down to a reasonable length, yet retain the story middle-readers would enjoy picking up. There's a story in the book about Edson, who could never find anyone that was like him, but he found an Abyssinian cat with all the traits that he had. He remarks, 'Finally I'd met a character like myself and it turned out to be a cat!'"

Leanne's diverse background includes being a governess in Japan, a librarian in Germany, a student in Mexico, a journalist covering several court trials and a freelance writer for a number of news magazines.

"I have a strong curiosity and my mother used to worry about that," says Leanne.

That curiosity often led to strange circumstances. "I was writing a murder mystery set in Tallinn, Estonia as I was staying with a friend there. I was leaving for Canada the next day but wanted to visit Riga, the Latvian capital first. After a day in Riga, I was stopped at the Estonia border with a visa problem, which eventually got resolved when the border officials grudgingly stamped my re-entry. The catch was I had to return on the next bus, which was a four-hour wait or hitch a ride with two Lithuanian strangers. I took a look and they looked like father and son, both dressed in black leather jackets. ‘I'll go with them,’ I told the officials.

The son spoke some English and asked what I was doing in Tallinn. I didn't want to tell them I was writing a murder mystery, so I distracted him by asking, ‘What colour is your flag?’ When he told me, I mentioned that it was flying from the building across from where I was staying. He said, 'You're living across from the Lithuanian Embassy?' And I said, 'I guess so,' and he said, ‘We'll drop you right off' and they dropped me right at my doorstep. I reached back into the car to give them some money, and he said, 'Take it away – you are a very lucky girl!' I'm still not sure what that was all about!"

As a freelance journalist, Leanne wrote for several western province news magazines, covered court trials and did a few courthouse interviews for CHEK-TV.

"I actually saw a few murder trials,” she says. “At that time, I was wearing two hats: freelance writing and private investigator. I was switching back and forth, depending on the circumstances. There was the case of a young man in Vancouver who was accused of murdering his wife.”

“His family had hired me to look into it. I like to go immediately to the crime area. Next door to the crime scene was a house of university students. The week before the murder, all the houses in the area were broken into. When I attended the inquest, they stated that within a radius of 185 blocks there were only so-many break-ins. At the end of the inquest, they asked if anyone in the audience had anything to say. I put my hand up and I thought I would be speaking publicly, but they hustled me into a backroom.”

“I told them 'Look, it's a little different having x-number of break-ins over a 185-block radius compared to several break-ins near the crime scene the week before.' The police went back and focused on the student house. An investigator can focus on one case and may see things the police, who have several cases, may not see initially."

The charges against the husband were eventually dropped.

Besides her full-time job as private investigator for "Secrets," Leanne's fun leisure time is taking music composition lessons from local legend, George Essihos.

"George gives me a few chords to compose a piece at home, which I get to play at my next lesson.” Leanne’s original compositions are between each chapter on the app for It's Cool to be Clever.

Successfully juggling her private investigations business, family, writing and music composition, Leanne's philosophy for her busy life is, "Listen to your inner voice; follow your dreams and make them come true.
At the moment, I don't desire anything as I'm happily in the right place at the right time."

It's Cool to be Clever is available at Bolen Books and online at www.agiopublishing.com and www.amazon.ca A few of Leanne's cases are documented at www.detective-international.com

 

DECEMBER 2012 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE

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