Printed in the September/October issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
The title character is a woman just released from prison who is blackmailed into working for the owner of a large, upscale detective agency. Callie Darrow has been a thief and a con artist all her life, but her stint in prison convinced her to look for a better way to live. But her resolution is thwarted by the man blackmailing her, who is forcing her back into that same environment that made her what she is.
I've always wanted to write a waterfront story, and this is it. It's Callie's contacts among the grifters and the thieves and the middlemen and the smugglers that make her so valuable to the detective agency; she can move through the back streets of the waterfront the way no outsider can. So Callie is walking a tightrope; if she fails to come through for the agency, she goes back to prison. And if her old cohorts ever learn she's now on the side of the law, she's dead.
Original title: The Reluctant Op
Genre: Fiction→ Crime and Mystery→ Crime/Caper