Case of the one eyed tig.., p.1
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       Case of the One-Eyed Tiger, p.1

           Jeffrey M. Poole
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Case of the One-Eyed Tiger

  Case of the

  One-Eyed Tiger


  J.M. Poole

  This book is a work of fiction. All characters and locations appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real locations, is purely coincidental.

  Published in the United States of America


  For a complete list of titles available by Jeffrey M. Poole, including the best-selling fantasy series Bakkian Chronicles and Tales of Lentari, please click here!

  Case of the

  One-Eyed Tiger


  J.M. Poole


  This book would not be here without the help of a number of people. First and foremost, my wife, Giliane. I never would have imagined what was necessary when you’re building your own fictional town. We spent many late night sessions dreaming up what a town needs, where it should be found on a map, who runs it, and so on. You have my eternal love, babe!

  I must also thank my beta readers. Diane, Deb, Jason, Barb, Caroline, Sorcha, Laura, and Michelle – thank you for volunteering your time. Your amazing abilities in locating typos, grammatical errors, plot holes, and so on provide a valuable resource I plan on continuing to use just as much as I can. :)

  The cover illustration and typography was done by a gifted artist I found on DeviantArt, where she’s known as Marikobard. She’s done some fine work and was incredibly patient with me as we worked to get everything the way I felt it should be. In case you missed it that was code for I was a pain in the ass. Krystyna, thanks again!

  And I must acknowledge you, the reader. Thank you for giving my first foray into the mystery genre a try. I hope you like it!


  Table of Contents














  For my father, Jim…

  Life has recently thrown you some curve balls. While not pleasant, and I certainly wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, I do believe it has been for the best. I hope certain parts of this book will make you smile. Trust me, you’ll know what I mean when you get there. :)


  This had to be a record.

  What the hell happened? How did I end up in this mess? For crying out loud, I just moved here. Tell you what, let’s do a recap, shall we? In less than 24 hours I had managed to piss off family members I never knew I had, run afoul of the local cops, AND land my sorry ass in jail accused of – you’ll love this – theft and murder. Oh, I mustn’t forget that my name is now on a set of adoption papers making me the legal guardian and owner of…

  You know what? I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.

  My name is Zachary Anderson. Zack to my friends. I’m 43, six feet tall, have brown hair (with more gray than I care to admit), blue eyes, and am reasonably built (especially for someone my age). How? I have a date with my elliptical five nights a week that I have learned I really shouldn’t miss.

  Why would you care about how I look? The short answer is, you don’t. So why bother telling you? Because it’s my story and it helps set the scene. I could go into details but you really don’t care to hear about that. Besides, I have a nasty habit of veering off topic. I’ll try to keep it under control.

  As I was saying, I try to keep myself in good shape. Not only for myself but for Samantha as well. At least, I used to.

  My darling Samantha. We had been childhood sweethearts. We married right out of high school, much to our family’s chagrin. My own mother decided the marriage would never last, seeing how both Samantha and I were incredibly strong willed. Over twenty years later our marriage was still going strong. We lasted well past our family's expectations and then some. Nobody gave us a chance but we made it. Siblings, friends, even my own parent’s marriages crumbled in front of our eyes. Not us. Our love for each other was special. Unique. Everyone saw it. Everyone said as much.

  Six months ago, in less time than it takes to say ‘I told you so’, Samantha’s SUV unexpectedly swerved into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with a semi, effectively ending the utopia we had created together. The stink of it was no one could find a reason why. Had Samantha lost control of her car? Had she suffered some type of medical trauma? A seizure, maybe? The investigators were beside themselves trying to figure out what had happened. It was the only logical explanation, they said. The problem with that line of thinking was Samantha had been in perfect health.

  Before you suggest mechanical problems, I know it wasn’t her SUV. I had just bought her that car two months prior to the accident. It had been running perfectly. Had the detectives been able to examine it they would have backed me up on that. However, there hadn’t been anything recognizable left after the collision.

  Yes, the wreck was that bad. Thankfully I was told Samantha had been killed instantly. More than likely she never knew what had hit her.

  With a heavy heart I packed up our house and sold it, along with 95% of the contents, just as soon as I was able to function again. I had to get out of the house. Everything reminded me of Samantha, and the last thing I wanted to do was fall back into a funk. I needed a change of scenery. I had planned on finding a quiet corner of the desert to bury myself in my work when…

  Oh. I should mention what I do. I’m a self-employed writer. A storyteller. Before I tell you what kind, however, I should warn you that you’ll probably be surprised. Really. When I tell you, don’t laugh, and don’t judge me.

  I’m a romance writer. I, uh, discovered I have a knack for writing romance novels. The real steamy kind. Before you jump to any conclusions, I'm not the typical back room writer of dirty romance novels. I am a legitimate author just trying to make a living, so get your mind out of the gutter. These are genuine, R-rated stories that appeal to men just as much as they appeal to women. I know. Much to my dismay I’ve had just as many male fans write to me as I’ve had female fans.

  I learned that romance readers were voracious and snapped up anything that had an attractive, scantily clad couple on the cover. They’d preorder the next book in the series before even finishing the one they were presently reading. That was the type of market I wanted as my readers.

  It’s not something I’m proud of, but the pay is good. So good that it enables me to stay self-employed and set my own hours. I just don’t volunteer any specifics about my profession. The last thing I want to admit is that behind a computer, I’m known as Chastity Wadsworth.

  I can’t have it known that a guy, and a boring, normal guy such as myself, was the person behind that outlandish pseudonym. So that’s why I chose an exotic nomme de plume to pen all my romance novels. The steamier the overall image, the more sales they tend to make.

  I said no laughing.

  Ah. I can just hear you now. You’re wondering what Samantha thought of this unusual profession. Would you be surprised to learn she thought it was hysterical? She encouraged me to make the books just as steamy as it could be without pushing them into mainstream erotica.

  Trust me, guys, when you’re an author, and your wife suggests making your novels as sensual as they could be, it can only be a good thing. Our lives were perfect. Until that damn day when…

  Sorry. See what I did there? I saw the tangent coming and veered back on track. You’re welcome.

>   Back to the story. I was feeling depressed. I lacked motivation. Inspiration. My novels reflected that. As a result, for the first time ever, my sales began to drop. After a few months I had become desperate to reverse the worrying trend. The problem was, I knew what it was that was dragging me down. Samantha’s death. However, that wasn’t something that I could quickly bounce back from. I challenge you to lose a spouse and see how great you feel about it.

  Thankfully, that’s when news came that would forever change my life. Whether or not it’s for best has yet to be determined.

  I received a letter from some attorney I didn’t know, living in a city I’ve never heard of, telling me that due to Samantha’s death, I had become the sole beneficiary of a large estate that included a private winery in southwestern Oregon. I had to ask the attorney if he had the right guy. As far as I was aware, neither Samantha nor I had any ties to the Pacific Northwest.

  As it turns out, I was wrong. You’ll soon see that I’m wrong quite often. Anyway, my wife had a great aunt living up there, and as fortune would have it, the old lady had passed away. Great Aunt Bonnie had left her estate not to her kids, which is what I would have thought she would have done, but to us. Specifically, the two of us. I had thought the request was odd, but the attorney assured me he had his facts straight. Apparently Aunt Bonnie had been adamant. Samantha and I were specifically named as the only two she wanted to leave her estate to. Why? I don’t know. I suppose I’ll never know. Unfortunately, thanks to Samantha’s accident, I was it.

  So I had a choice to make. After months of sluggish book sales, with numerous reviewers telling me I had lost my ‘unique edge’, I could either try to reinvent myself in the deserts of Phoenix or I could pull up stakes and move north for a complete change of scenery. With no ties left in Arizona, and no desire to be constantly reminded of my wife’s tragic demise, the decision was an easy one. I moved.

  If I had known then what I know now, I would have reconsidered my decision to move to the Pacific Northwest.

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