Today's Reading

"Damn. It really is right in the middle of everything. That's just a couple of blocks from Spanky's."

Spanky's Bar was a popular tourist joint. If the murder had happened a few hours earlier, hundreds of people could have been caught up in it.

Harper had already noticed the proximity. She needed to get down there.

"Let's go."

Half running, they hurried down a steep cobbled lane toward the river. It had rained earlier, and Harper's shoes struggled to find traction on the slick, rounded stones.

It was darker down here. The breeze off the river cut a cool path through the humidity.

Harper usually avoided River Street altogether. It was mostly tourist traps, and until now, she couldn't think of one interesting crime that had ever happened here.

Ahead, crime tape had been strung from light pole to light pole, blocking the narrow street. Flashing emergency lights lit up the jaunty flags outside the locked bars and shuttered shops.

Harper scanned the scene—the road was packed with police cars but she could see no trucks bearing the hallmarks of the local TV news stations.

Bless Miles for staying up all night listening to his scanner.

About thirty yards beyond the tape, a cluster of uniformed cops and plain-clothed detectives had gathered. They were all looking down at something Harper couldn't see from here.

"Look, there's Miles." Bonnie pointed across the street.

The photographer stood alone at the edge of the crime tape. Hearing her voice, he turned and waved them over.

As always, he looked dapper in slacks and a button-down shirt. It was as if he'd been waiting for this crime to happen.

"Well, well, well," he said, as they walked up. "Is it two-for-one night? I didn't bring my coupon."

"Hi Miles." Bonnie beamed at him. "Fancy running into you at a murder scene."

"The night is full of surprises," he agreed.

"What'd we miss?" Harper gestured to the crowd of cops. "Any ID on the victim? Is it a tourist?"

"Nobody's saying anything," he said. "The tape was up when I got here. They've kept it quiet on the radio—there's no chatter. I almost missed it myself. I heard some chitchat about the coroner that let me know something was up, otherwise I'd still be home."

"You call Baxter yet?" she asked. He shook his head.

"Don't have enough to tell her."

Bonnie listened to all of this, but said nothing. Her fine eyebrows were drawn together as she watched the police. They were shining flashlights on something lying on the cobblestones.

In the eight years Harper had worked at the newspaper, this was the first time she could remember Bonnie being at a crime scene. It felt strange. This wasn't Bonnie's world. She was an artist—bartending paid for the paint. Murder wasn't her business.

It was Harper's.

She'd been a crime reporter since she'd dropped out of college to take an internship at the Savannah Daily News when she was twenty years old. Ever since then she'd spent her nights investigating the city's worst crimes. Murder no longer turned her stomach as it had early on.

When she looked at a body now, all she saw was the words she'd need to describe it.

In the distance, the crowd of officers shifted. Squinting, Harper saw a small woman in a dark suit, crouching low.

"Daltrey's lead detective?" She glanced over at Miles.

"Looks like it." Raising his camera, he took a speculative shot, pausing to check the image on the screen.

It wasn't terrible news. Daltrey wasn't the easiest detective to work with, but she wasn't the worst, either.

Anyway, none of them were very easy to work with anymore.

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