In Part 1 of this prequel to the Jack Donegal Mystery series, the narrator Andy Westin meets his buddy and counterpart, Jack Donegal, for the first time. They then get involved in a comical mystery adventure where Andy's original roommate, Steve Gabriel, is under suspicion. Jack is determined that Steve has criminal intentions as he wanders around town in his orange Mini Cooper and he drags Andy into sleuthing and surveillance operations that, at some point, involve a pair of fuzzy dice.
"Long, long ago, in a place not far from here – here being Mapleville, New Jersey – I didn't know Jack Donegal. I know that's hard to believe since, nowadays, Jack and I are attached like a teenager to a cell phone, but it's true. Before there was Jack Donegal and Andy Westin, his faithful sidekick and historian, there was Andy Westin and Steve Gabriel. Steve and I shared an apartment, and I helped out with marketing for Steve's computer programming business.
Life with Steve was calm and orderly. Our apartment was pristine. Our only pets were some betta fish that, although not very cuddly, never shed any fur or barked at the mailman. Steve didn't mind that I sorted all his Warner Brothers glassware by character and in alphabetical order, from Bugs Bunny to Yosemite Sam. On Friday nights, we ate lo mein out of little white takeout cartons and watched sports on TV. Life was orderly and a little bit boring, until I met Jack. Shortly after that, things got a bit exciting and a whole lot of weird."