As one of Portland's three deputy marshals, Lean was in a small minority of citizens with a telephone in his home. After receiving the call, he had hurried down to meet the first patrolman who'd answered the watchman's frantic whistle. Other officers had since swept through the building, but Lean had kept them away from the body. He'd ordered the first patrolman to stand guard over the watchman inside the latter's shack, quarantining the only two known witnesses to the horrific details of the body. The dozen or so other buildings that made up the Portland Company's rail-car manufacturing grounds had been searched as well. He'd used the telephone in the company office to speak with the marshal and then sent word to the station to call in every available patrolman. Almost every one of Portland's three dozen police officers was now out on foot, searching for signs of the killer.
He looked down at the body once more. The passage of time since Lean had first viewed the corpse did nothing to alleviate the unexpected despair he'd felt when he first stood over the young woman's body and her face had still been warm to the touch. Even that last hint of life had since been stolen away. Now the woman's soul was one more hour removed from this world. The wide, unknowing look on her face remained, and the senseless horror of it all weighed on Lean. He fought down the urge to yank away the pitchfork still planted in her neck.
Dr. Virgil Steig was a slight man of about sixty with a neatly
trimmed mustache and beard gone mostly white. From where
he stood by the entrance to the machine shop, the doctor could hear
the gentle sloshing of the harbor against the wharf pilings just a
good stone's throw away. The various buildings of the locomotive
foundry and machine works were crammed into ten waterfront acres
near Portland's East End. At the sound of approaching horseshoes and
the clatter of carriage wheels over the cobblestones, the doctor returned
his attention to the land. He let his gaze drift past the carriage
to the open space before him, then up to the dome of the Grand Trunk
Railway. Dr. Steig stepped away from the machine shop door, ready to
greet the mayor's landau as it arrived at the entrance to the Portland
Company. A uniformed patrolman moved across the compound and
opened the carriage door. The ample frame of Mayor Darius Ingraham
disgorged itself from the cab.
"Dr. Steig. I should have known," the mayor said between heavy breaths. "The officer didn't mention it was you."
"Would you have come if he had?"
"This is no hour for jokes. Why the hell am I here?"
"I thought you'd want to see this, in a manner of speaking. It's going to cause quite a stir: a young woman." Dr. Steig led the mayor toward the front door.
"That's something. I mean, it could be worse."
"Don't get your hopes up," said Dr. Steig.
"Who's the investigator?"
The mayor drew in his breath.
"You appointed him," said the doctor.
"There were other considerations."
"Aren't there always?"
The mayor seemed to weigh the need to defend himself but settled for, "Where is he?"
"Inside with the body."
"I don't know; he seems bright enough," the mayor said. "Plenty bright. Not the most seasoned."
"He's been around a few years."
"I have scars older than him." The doctor turned and reached for the doorknob. "I just think this case might warrant someone with a bit more expertise."
"It's just a dead whore, Virgil."
"And Macbeth is just a play about a Scotsman. All the same, better prepare yourself for what you're about to see." Dr. Steig led the way inside. Deputy Marshal Archie Lean was standing twenty paces ahead.
Excerpted from The Truth of All Things by Kieran Shields. Copyright © 2012 by Kieran Shields. Excerpted by permission of Crown. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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