the smuggler’s bible

Barraclough

They pore over the records for two days. Finally, Christmas Eve, cups of cocoa gone tepid, Barraclough shuts another book.

“Marley had a theory,” he says.

Pontchartrain tucks a folder back onto a shelf. “Several. Mostly about where the company could dump its unused lead paint.”

“No, more personal. He thought someone was shaving profit. He was chasing it for months.”

“Who’d he figure?”

“Nobody. He died instead.”

“But all his work—”

Barraclough gestures to the book. “Pages missing.” Then, “Call Cratchit.”

Pontchartrain dials and murmurs into the phone. “No good,” she says. “He didn’t show up for work today.”