Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Four:

Case File No. 25-181

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AMBER LOVE 02-NOV-2020 Find out how all this began. Catch up on Year One, Year Two, and Year Three cases at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency. Thank you for all your financial and social support! Oliver and Gus are looking forward to bringing you more fascinating discoveries and investigations into the chipmunk mafia, the blue jay gang, the neighborhood critters, and cryptid sightings.

This work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at Patreon.com/amberunmasked and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. For a one-time tip, you can go to the new PayPal.me.


Where We Left Off:

Gnome Grove was vandalized. Gus and Ollie investigated what had happened to the new signpost for fairies and gnomes.


The Jazz Bird

August may have been over, but early September was still blaring at eighty degrees in New Jersey. I wore my sunglasses and my wide-brimmed mosquito net hat per usual, but added my nylon safety orange vest now that hunting season was officially underway. Maybe it’s the meds. Maybe it’s menopause. But vanity is something I do not have the energy to deal with anymore.

Amber selfie with Gus

It was a big weekend with a full schedule. I even left the house. Left the property! The day after the trip to the Horrorshow Marketplace, things returned to our new normal (which is actually our old normal). The Butler, the cats, and I took long adventures. There was so much going on outside with the local critters. I expected Gus to get riled and go murdering, but he didn’t. In fact, we came across two chipmunks in different areas and he didn’t even chase them. There must have been six posts made to Instagram on September 6, 2020.

Oliver

I couldn’t wait to get out of the direct sunlight even though we were having a great time observing all the critters. It came time to head back home and inside. Gus gave a little sniff to a pile of dead leaves near the back door next to the snowblower that has been sitting there all summer. He didn’t show much interest and was ready to move on. Something told me in my guts to take a closer look. It could have been intuition or maybe my eyes saw something that told my brain something wasn’t right only I couldn’t figure it out immediately.

With the end of my pink and black parasol, I brushed the dried brown leaves around and uncovered a tragic site. There was the stiffened body of a dead catbird. It could have been a Halloween decoration if you didn’t know it was real. I took crime scene photos and then carried Gus through the door. I immediately told the other humans about our discovery while I unhooked Gus from his harness and collar. Before I could even present the idea of examining the corpse more closely, The Cook ordered us not to touch it. She fetched the black metal scoop used for cinders and ashes and a small broom. She was not going to let that corpse sit for another minute on her porch. She walked it over to the woods where it would be more appropriate for other creatures to take it through the end of the lifecycle.

The next day, Oliver made sure to give out his orders for working on this new case. Gus didn’t waste any time. We navigated the property, made a circle around Gnome Grove and the patio, then ended up at the well house. Gus ripped a mole from the ground and interrogated it. The poor little thing was traumatized by such an aggressive invasion of its personal space. I’m not sure exactly why, but that’s the informant Gus targeted and he was not gentle about finding the little critter.

Gus made the right call. The mole told us that the catbird was named Imogen. She was the mate of a powerful criminal named George. As I rewatch The Mentalist, I’ve been reminded that the way to hurt a man isn’t to kill him; it’s to harm his family. That only applies if the man isn’t a sociopath though. Was Imogen the real target or was someone looking to cause George deep emotional pain?

We had to see if the big boss was home and willing to talk. The chipmunk mafia don, Cheeks Moretti, had been spotted the day before so there was some hope that we could see him again. I’m beginning to think Cheeks uses a body double sometimes, but he doesn’t always act the same (that’s a mystery for another time). On this day, Cheeks was adamant about keeping his distance. He was twitchy and wouldn’t let Gus and me get too close. We knew he would be the best source of information about the death of Imogen the catbird.

chipmunk Cheeks Moretti

“Sad news,” Cheeks said. “Not a lot I can tell you.”

“Not a lot you can tell or not a lot you’re willing to cough up, Moretti?” Gus wasn’t about to play mental games with Cheeks. He wanted to creep up the rock wall and scare the chipmunk into the wilted, flowerless peonies.

“Imogen was a good egg. She deserved better is what I hear.”

“So George was a problem? In what way?”

Cheeks told us that George’s criminal affairs were indeed the reason Imogen was targeted, but it wasn’t to cause him distress. Imogen was ready to cooperate with the law and rat out her husband.

chipmunk Cheeks Moretti

“Are you telling us that George murdered his own wife?” Gus looked appalled.

“I don’t think he did the deed himself. Outsourced it.” Cheeks wasn’t spilling the beans quickly enough.

“Spit out, man. Who did George hire to kill Imogen?” Gus stepped away from the birdbath and slinked along the rock wall looking for an opportunity to jump up.

“The jays. Can’t believe you need me to spell it out for you. Concitta Cristata, the bluejay gang’s top enforcer. No one messes with her. You won’t get near her to take her down. She’s vicious — even to her own kind.” Cheeks kept turning his head side to side to scan for anyone who might be listening. He wasn’t that far from the huge maple where the jays hung out.

We had our answer. It was ugly, but death usually is. Poor Imogen.

Case Findings:

The body of Imogen the catbird was discovered at the back door of the Winchester-Nabu building. After questioning a mole and Cheeks Moretti, we found out Imogen’s husband George hired Concitta Cristata to murder her. We don’t know the body was delivered to us personally.

Case Status: Closed

The Mentalist gif

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