the smuggler’s bible


Barraclough shakes a peppermint stick out of a crumpled pack in his shirt pocket and lights it.

“I thought you quit.”

“I did, but you know how Christmas is.”

“None of my business.” Pontchartrian shrugs and looks over Barraclough’s shoulder. “What’s this?”

“Officers’ reports. Four sets of killings, and at every scene the witnesses report noticing strangers in the neighborhood. A man and a woman.”

“A team?”

“They’re never together.”

“Broken, then. Like the, uhm, patterns.”

Barraclough grinds his peppermint in the ashtray and looks at her.

“They’re complicated, sure, but also incomplete,” Pontchartrain says. “Each one is missing something.”