suggest you don't waste it. Why not walk home, and get to know the area better?'

'Certainly, sir. I will.'

'I'm off, then. Tell Mac I shall be late again.' And he was gone. He moved fast for a big man.

So that was that. An invigorating walk across half of London. Of course, it began pouring rain halfway across Waterloo. I had no umbrella, having pawned it months before, but I did have a stout bowler and heavy woolen Ulster coat that had once belonged to my late predecessor. It had no bullet holes, I noticed. I pulled up the collar and tugged down my hat and settled into a regular, plodding pace. Being poor and Welsh, I'd learned to walk in hilly country. These flat streets were nothing to me. I walked steadily down Waterloo Road, watching the rain cascade in a stream from the brim of my hat. I passed commercial and residential districts, by small parks and churches. It was not the worst way to spend a Saturday afternoon. London is a beautiful city, and never more so than when it rains. The streets gleam, the buildings all take on a dappled color, and the lights from butcher shops, tobacconists, and tea shops cast a cozy shade of ochre upon the pavement.

Mac regarded me severely as I sloshed into the back passage, and Harm was displeased that I was dripping on the linoleum. He nipped at my heels (the dog, that is, not Mac, though he looked like he might have considered it), but it was a halfhearted and perfunctory attempt. Mac finally spoke.

'Out for a walk, I see.'

'Very observant. You should be a detective,' I replied. 'Mr. Barker thought I should get to know the area better.'

'I don't believe he meant that you should swim the Thames,' he said acidly. 'Give me your wet things. I've laid a fire. Actually, your timing is perfect. Your wardrobe has just arrived from Krause Brothers, and I believe your new boots are here as well.'

'Excuse me. Did you say 'wardrobe'?'


The next morning, the rain had stopped, but a fog had rolled in thick and heavy. Luckily, it was a white fog and showed every intention of dissipating by noon, rather than the yellow kind, the London 'particular,' full of coal smoke and the effluvium of every factory in the old town. That kind can float about the area for days, choking out the lives of the aged and consumptive.

I didn't let the weather bother me, however, for I had a new wardrobe. Not one, but half a dozen suits in various cuts and fabric, and all tailored to fit like a kid glove. Needless to say, I spent the night alternating between trying on the various articles and thanking my employer for his generosity. It was more and better clothing than I had ever had in my entire life. Gruffly, Barker muttered something about not wanting the agency to look less than professional, but I believe he was pleased. At least I passed muster.

So that morning, I was fully dressed and beginning a new stack of books that had suddenly appeared on my desk overnight, when the Guv appeared at my door.

'I see you're already into the new books. Good work, lad.' He came in and wandered about, doing those things one does when one is uncomfortable, such as inspecting the wardrobe for dust or distress, and whistling quietly off-key.

'Is there something you wish, sir?' I asked.

'Well, here's the thing. I am in the habit of attending the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Charles Haddon Spurgeon's church, which is right across the street. I was wondering whether you might like to join me.'

I closed my book. 'Certainly, I'll go.'

He smiled. That is to say, his black mustache changed shape, like a bow whose string had been relaxed.

'Thank you,' he said formally. 'We leave within the quarter hour.'

The church was, indeed, almost across the street. I had noted it in my walk, but it hadn't registered in my mind that it was a church. To my Methodist eyes, the building more closely resembled a bank or museum.

Inside, the building was immense, seating thousands and including a gallery. The latter had a long, gleaming brass rail encircling the room, and in one corner, it bulged out into a small balcony, not unlike a stage. As the first hymn began, I learned something else about my employer. His singing is no better than his penmanship.

The famous preacher got up to speak. I was impressed by his passion and energy. Spurgeon almost bounded about the stage. He lifted us to the very gates of Heaven, then swooped down and dragged us along the coals of Hell until our coattails were singed and brimstone was in our nostrils.

Coming out of the tabernacle and down the steps, I had to admit I'd had a good time. I'd even felt spiritually uplifted. Now, like most of the attendees, I was looking forward to a nice Sunday supper, a little reading, and perhaps a Sabbath nap. Alas, such was not to be.

A four-wheeler stood at our door across the street. In front of it a figure waited impatiently for us to arrive. It was a tall, thin man in a long coat and wide-brimmed hat. His face was pale and hawkish and he had a long black beard. From his temples hung the long side curls of the traditional Jew. I felt a sudden sense of foreboding.

Barker walked up to him, and they murmured for a moment in what I suppose was Yiddish. The Guv read over a note the man handed him.

'I fear we shall miss lunch,' he told me after a moment. We climbed into the vehicle and were off.


I've always been interested in architecture and the way that buildings resemble their function. Churches point toward Heaven, banks reflect prosperity, and constabularies give us a sense of security. Even gin palaces attempt to show the supposed gaiety and good times to be had inside their doors. But what of morgues? You will never find a plainer building. They are boxes of bricks tucked away out of sight, discreet and anonymous. They are warehouses for bodies, communal coffins. Most are a single long hall, with rooms on both sides, an entrance at one end, and an attempt at a portico at the other, but which more closely resembles a goods dockyard. And why not? It is usually in the morgue that, officially, a person ceases to be a person and becomes merely a piece of property.

There was a guard at the front entrance with a logbook he required everyone to sign. I thought it was absurd, so much security around dead bodies, but then I remembered the old tales of resurrectionists, of Burke and Hare, and wondered if medical students were still desperate for cadavers. Had Barker not chosen me, for whatever reason, I might have been pulled from the river nearby like some unfortunate from Our Mutual Friend and lying here even now, awaiting some fledgling surgeon's scalpel.

There were pallid-looking men in shirtsleeves and guttapercha aprons moving from room to room, stains on the floor, and the reek of decay, carbolic, and formaldehyde. I didn't want to be here. This was a part of the work I hadn't considered. I wanted to go back to my little room, my bed, my books, but I couldn't. Barker was depending on me, and I needed to prove myself.

As we walked down the hall, a man came out of the far room and began putting on his gloves. He was tall and thin, and his hair was carefully brushed to cover a balding patch. What he lacked on top, he made up for below. His gingery side-whiskers hung thick and heavy and ran into his mustache, giving him the look of an amiable walrus. Ignoring the sepulchral hush, Barker bawled out the name 'Terry!' and the man turned our way.

'Hello, Cyrus. Come for the Jew? Never seen anything like it in all my days. They say you see everything in police work, but this takes it. It's a sick world, no mistake. How's business?'

'Fine, thank you. Busy as ever. This is my new assistant, Thomas Llewelyn. Thomas, this is Inspector Terence Poole of the Criminal Investigation Department. Is the evidence still here?'

'We'll be taking it back to 'A' Division soon, but I think you've got time for a quick gander.'

'Do you have a name yet?' my employer asked.

'Yes. Louis Pokrzywa, a Polish Jew. That's P-O-K-R-Z-Y-WA, but they pronounce it Po-SHEE-va. Leave it to

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