Jack Devers is a middle-aged, burned-out lawyer who discovers a large volume of drugs being shipped through the Tri-Cities, and decides he wants in on the take.
Devers thinks his almost 25 years of legal experience can help him safely pocket some money, but he ends up caught between a corrupt government and a drug cartel and must find his way out without the law's help.
Devers isn't a real person -- he is the protagonist in a recently released e-book, Motion to Intervene.
But his creator, Tri-City attorney Larry Zeigler, is a self-described "recovering practitioner of law" who 16 years ago set out to take the things he knows and write a book.
No, Zeigler never has placed himself in such a predicament.
"Pulp, that's what it is. That's what it's designed to do is entertain," Zeigler, 65, told the Herald. "So far I haven't had a bad review. Everybody that's read it has said this was just plain fun, and it's enjoyable. I know I had a good time with it."
The novel was released on the internet in September and can be downloaded for $2.99 through Barnes & Noble, Amazon and iTunes.
Longtime Tri-Citian Zeigler spent three years as a Marine with a tour in Vietnam, five years on the streets as a cop with the University of Washington and city of Richland, and the past 30 years in the courtroom, primarily defending accused criminals.
He is an avid reader whose book collection has taken over every room in his Kennewick home.
So in 1995, when a co-worker dared him to pen his own novel, he accepted the challenge and handed over each chapter as it was finished.
She loved it, yet Zeigler held on to the manuscript -- using it as a doorstop -- until his girlfriend picked it up earlier this year and encouraged him to see if a publishing house was interested in releasing a hard copy.
The book's name comes from a civil procedure in which a third-party realizes they have an interest in an ongoing lawsuit and files a motion to intervene. In the book, Devers intervenes between the deliverers and the intended recipient of the drugs and cash.
His work made it to the editorial boards of two publishers, but was turned down because they felt Jack Devers does not fit the legal thriller niche -- like a lawyer in a John Grisham novel -- because they could not tell if he is a good guy or a bad guy.
That is just the character Zeigler wanted to create, a respectable lawyer who goes so far over the line that he must fight to survive and "hang on to the residue of human decency he's managed to retain throughout his legal career."
Zeigler said his book contains nothing objectionable for young adults to read -- "no graphic sex and no filthy language." He has a friend who is going to be using the novel for a high school reading project.
"It was just designed to entertain and it was designed to keep a fast pace from chapter to chapter, because you just want to keep moving to get to the end," he said.
Zeigler, who at 15 moved to Pasco from Olympia, wanted the story to take place in the Tri-Cities because he knows the area well, and it makes it credible. Places like the Horse Heaven Hills, Desert Lawn Memorial Park in Kennewick and the grain elevator on Clearwater Avenue west of Kellogg Street are featured.
One book editor wanted Zeigler to rewrite it with Seattle as the backdrop.
"That's just that big-city faux sophistication stuff that I hate," Zeigler said, telling the editor he no longer lives in Seattle. "Our streets can just afford as much action and drama setting. It's amazing how many people want to take your ideas and play with them. I said, 'No, just leave them alone. I like what it is.' "
In the book, Zeigler names Pasco, Kennewick and Richland, and describes the Tri-Cities has having "a combined population of just over 100,000 people, which was enough to support most of the accouterment of modern culture." He references a Western Hockey League team that plays at the "coliseum," a minor league baseball team, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, gang warfare and agri-business.
And Zeigler insists that any character resemblance is purely coincidental. Some have asked if they have got a role in the book, and even suggested Zeigler is Devers, but the author says he drew from different types of people.
"It is the author's unfortunate opinion that the types of characters who appear in this work may be found in every city, county and courthouse in the country," reads a disclaimer in the book.
Zeigler explained he has taken real things that have happened in his life and turned them into fictional situations.
"That's what makes good fiction, writing about something you know," he said. "When you can be in a piece of fiction, you can be a hard-nose because you survived Vietnam, you went though it and you saw the worst. And when you were a policeman, you saw the worst. And when you were a criminal defense lawyer, you deal with these things."
That experience tempers a person, it's your life, he added. "I'm not going to go knock off a bunch of guys and steal a million bucks, but it's fun to think about doing it."
The book's cover art was done by graphic artist Dennis Miller, who owns Artmil in Kennewick.
Zeigler said he learned that publishing is a brutal and ugly business, and has a binder full of rejection letters. He received contracts from a few potential agents, but they wanted him to sign over his ownership rights.
After making a number of revisions, Zeigler's girlfriend, Brenda Prince, suggested he submit it to Smashwords, an e-book publishing and distribution platform. He was pleased that no more changes were needed once the book went through the editing process.
"It's a lot of work, it really is, because your name is on it, so you can't run away later if you did a crummy job," he said.
Zeigler gets a small portion of the e-book proceeds, but he says he is not interested in the money part. He still would not mind having his book published in a bound copy, but he really would love to see it on the big screen some day so more people can enjoy his story.