“PHONE me. It’s important”.
Every now and then you get the call and you know – particularly if it’s in the early hours – that it’s not good news.
It came in the middle of the night this week – a message from a Herald colleague to tell me that a contributor and friend had passed away.
PJ Browne had worked as a detective in Dublin for more than three decades. After his retirement in 2009 he turned to writing, working as a crime and security analyst for the Herald.
As a writer he covered the areas he had expertise in: serious and organised crime, murder, organising investigations.
He was also forthright in criticising the authorities, where he saw fit.
But above all he was a detective’s detective, most at home amongst plainclothesmen.
As an detective superintendent he led his unit from the front.
As an analyst he rarely filed an article without some mention of the battle being fought by his ex-colleagues ‘on the frontline’.
There were plenty of other sides to PJ, the family man, the charity fundraiser, the golfer, the Listowel native, but that was the one I saw, and worked with.
It’s strange to realise that, come the next major crime story, I won’t be dialling his number to be greeted by his standard response, the one he used for everyone from pestering journalists to the Garda Commissioner: “Browne here”.
Alas, no longer. Rest in peace.