The argument turned out to be over the sticky fingers of the victim's slim, left-handed best friend. He liked to steal, and didn't much care who he stole from. Maybe he got caught, or maybe he'd had enough, but he finally turned to murder. Murder, it turned out, carried a much longer sentence than theft. Faced with the evidence Dashiell collected, he confessed right away, and the police hauled him off to jail. Happy ending? There are no happy endings on the street, sister, and Dashiell wasn't about to go home counting his reward and a job well done.

The victim was connected with the Dies Arcanum Brotherhood, a shadowy group that liked to work out of the local churches. Somewhere along the line, he'd made some enemies with the Order of Socrates, a social club that also happened to run things in City Hall with the efficiency of the Tammany Machine. While the Brotherhood was pleased that the murder of one of their own was solved, the Order was not. Dashiell was going to be fighting City Hall again, and this time, he wouldn't have a badge to protect him.

Topping things off, since his client turned out to be the guilty suspect, Dashiell wasn't going to get his fee. You can't squeeze blood from a stone, and you can't squeeze a deadbeat client when he's already in a cell for a long time. He'd gained some valuable experience and skills from this particular case, but it wouldn't keep the lights on or pay the rent. Hell, it was only after an hour of begging that he got to keep his office.


A knock at the door made Dashiell grab his .38, just in case the landlord was back, but that was when a long-legged dame walked in. It seemed her son was found dead on the floor of his apartment. The cops said it was a heart attack, which is what they always said when they didn't want to waste an hour at a crime scene. More importantly, he'd been in fine health the last time she'd seen him, and even more importantly than that, she was wearing nice clothes, which meant she could pay. Widows, mothers, the aggrieved; they always paid, and always paid well.

"Sit down," Dashiell said, ignoring the momentary flicker of the lights overhead, "and tell me all about it."

Finding out the truth is what being a Sleuth is all about.

Shannon Drake rides a polar bear to work.

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