DETECTIVE MARK STODDARD'S DEADLIEST CASE
When the decayed corpse of an unknown man is found slouched in an outhouse in a rural California town, Pomo City Police Detective Mark Stoddard finds himself investigating a bizarre mixture of suspects, including Civil War buffs, several eccentric artists, and a pedantic antique dealer. Digging out clues to murder from gravel-voiced Ma Shanahan's Irish pub to the beer-and-sin-stained bar of The Sweat Lodge, Stoddard finds that small towns can have big secrets, and even bigger motives for murder. The crucial answer to the mystery seems to hinge on the meaning of a strange tattoo, but when a second man is reported missing, it suddenly looks like an open and shut case; a case of sick jealousy that brought one man to his grave and turned his killer into a fugitive.
But Stoddard soon realizes that obvious solutions can be misleading and that hidden motives may be the most powerful ones of all. What about the beautiful Japanese woman that both men loved, and that one of them may have loved a little too much? Who owned the murder weapon—and who used it? Did the antique dealer have more than a casual interest in his beautiful young assistant? As he delves deeper into the secret motives behind this bizarre killing, Stoddard discovers that this sleepy little Western town hides more than one mystery, and finds himself unraveling a tangled knot of love, ambition, and envy as he stalks a calculating killer in a determined search for the answers.