- “I'm a police officer, and I want a cup of tea.”
- ―Richard Poole
He was a British police officer assigned to the Caribbean island of Saint Marie to investigate the murder of the previous inspector, Charlie Hulme. After solving the case, he was permanently assigned to Saint Marie.
Detective Inspector Richard Poole was despatched from the Metropolitan Police Service to the Caribbean island of Saint Marie to investigate the murder of DI Charlie Hulme, head of the Honoré Police Station. In the process he revealed a long standing people-smuggling operation on the island, accidentally breaking Camille Bordey's cover in the process (as he arrested her, forcing her to reveal her position as a police officer in order to get out). Poole also uncovered that Hulme's killer was in fact his own sergeant, Lily Thomson, who was in on the people smuggling operation because she was tired of being passed over for promotions in favour of British officers. After this success he was instructed to remain on the island as the new police chief, with Bordey as his Detective Sergeant.
Despite Poole's distaste for the island and inexperience with tropical weather—to the point that he continued to wear his old suits despite their impracticality—he often showed a useful knack for making deductive leaps based on minimal information and random events. He also formed a good bond with his new team despite the occasional personality clash (as opposed to his old role in London, where his colleagues threw a party after his departure).
In the final episode of Series 1, Poole received the news from the Commissioner Selwyn Patterson that his old job in London was still available. He needed to call head office and request it back, but Patterson delayed telling him the information until the deadline had almost passed because of Poole's ability to solve near-impossible murders. He missed the deadline while on a case and became the permanent police chief of the island.
In Series 2, Poole grew slightly more flexible in his behaviour (if not much). After an impressive piece of work on Fidel Best's part, Poole personally recommends him for the sergeant's exam, which he rather awkwardly offers Fidel encouragement on.
Notably, in Series 2, Poole briefly returned to London, but despite his distaste for Saint-Marie itself, chose to return to be with the friends he has there, indicating that despite his regular complaints regarding the island, his care for the people around him was greater.
Since arriving on Saint-Marie, Poole found himself a co-tenant with a small lizard which he named Harry (inspired by Prince Harry), that wandered into his modest beach house. He claimed that among his favourite things was a cold pint in his local pub, while also showing a fondness for boardgames and in particular British food and "proper" tea. He had a good knowledge of forensic science and sometimes used his home as a makeshift lab improvising equipment to make up for the island's lack of forensic facilities. However, evidence and bodies normally had to be flown to Guadeloupe for examination, incurring a time penalty of half a day or more in investigations. He had a clear and undisguised hatred of anything claiming to be supernatural, be it miracle healing or voodoo curses, believing it all to be trickery.
Poole met his end at the beginning of Series 3, when he was stabbed in the heart with an ice pick in order to prevent him revealing a case of identity theft during a reunion of friends of his from university. However this proved ineffective, as the clues from Poole's own investigation allowed his replacement, Detective Inspector Humphrey Goodman, to solve his murder and to unveil the identity theft, commenting that Poole had effectively "solved his own murder." The other members of the Saint-Marie police force mourned him and were clearly saddened by his passing.
He is replaced in Series 3 by DI Humphrey Goodman after his murder. His time on Saint-Marie (assuming real world time passage as mirroring time within the show) was late 2011 to early 2014, with him serving approximately 2 years and 3 months as the Island's police Chief. Poole is the second of the Chiefs assigned to the island in the course of the series.