The cloying mist closed around Roger Thompson. The sickly-sweet stench of death made it difficult to breathe—as if a giant white-gloved fist gripped his chest, making it impossible to fill his lungs. He knew he’d never be able to find his way back through the swamp in all this fog. That was Sherlock’s job. “You’ll get me home, won’t you, boy?” he whispered. The bloodhound looked up with sad eyes and wagged his tail.
Roger pulled the flap on his trench coat tighter to his throat and buttoned it against the chill. I had to be the hero, didn’t I? Roger shook his head. No case too big or too small.' Solving a murder is a job for the cops, not a P.I. What the hell am I doing here in the middle of the night, tracking a killer? I oughta have my head exami— He cursed and pulled his foot from the muck, nearly losing his shoe. He watched for a moment as the fetid water filled the impression he’d left behind. It’s always the dames who sucker me into these things. Always the dames He shrugged. Enough wool-gathering! Get back to earning your fee. Roger straightened his shoulders and gripped the revolver in his coat pocket all the tighter. He has to be close. Keep your eyes ope— The crack of a rifle shot pierced the mist and Roger slumped to the ground, facedown in the mud. Sherlock trotted over to him and licked his cheek, once and then again. When the man didn’t move, the dog lay down beside him and whimpered. Thick blood trickled down the back of Roger's skull and slowly dripped, dripped, dripped onto the ground.
Water splashed around their ankles as the search party spread out into the early morning light. A thick coating of fog blanketed the pine forest lending the already unnervingly perfect rows another layer of unspoken menace.
Jacob rolled his head on tired, tense shoulders and tried to forget the grisly crime scene he, and his best tracking dog, Beau, had been called on. Standing almost fifty feet away in the woods the woman had looked whole, merely resting with her back against the tree. But as they neared, it became obvious that different parts of her pallid frame decorated the stand of pines like a macabre work of art.
"Easy, Beau." Jacob pulled the dog up as the bloodhound bayed, having caught the scent of the killer over the water. "Wait for our back up, this is no time to be a hero."
Rain splattered his face as Jacob ran along the cobbles into the alley. The man ahead squeezed through the dimness, his long coat flapping. Dank and decay dug into Jacob’s bones, his heart racing. The alley spilled out onto the waterfront. The Thames stank and gurgled under London Bridge. Fog rolled over his shoes as Jacob slowed to catch his breath. Where did the scoundrel go?
Hands grabbed his shoulders. Jacob whirled about. “Did you catch him?” Amy asked, her face stark white in her cloak hood.
“I told you to stay in the coach, my dear. This is no place for you.” He put his hand over her small, cold one. Now he’d have to worry about her as well as the thief.
“I thought I recognized the man. He might be my husband,” Amy whispered.
“Your husband? I thought you were a widow.” Jacob saw the fear in her eyes. “Well, he’s disappeared now. Let’s get you back to the coach.”
He put his arm around her and they turned to walk back down the alley. At a snarling noise, Jacob halted. Eyes shone from the depths of the alley. A large brute of a dog, blocked their way, teeth bared.