the smuggler’s bible


The sign on the door is brass crusted with verdigris—DROSSELMEYER: TIMEPIECES, TOYS, TRAPS. Inside, Barraclough brushes snow from his white frosting shirt cuffs while Pontchartrain introduces them. The man behind the counter is tall and thin with stringy black hair.

“A murder?” he says, setting aside his screwdriver.

“Workers putting up decorations saw you enter the clock tower.”

“I have a contract with the city.”

Barraclough eyes a pocket watch under glass. “Timepieces,” he says, “and toys. Meaning dolls?”

“Sometimes, certainly.”

“Bet the elves don’t like that. But why traps?”

“Why else?” Drosselmeyer’s voice is soft. “To kill mice.”