“HE’S GONE,” Katie said hoarsely into her cell phone. She sat inside her room at Pye’s New Look Motor Hotel, petting the German shepherd that lay on the bed with her.

“Gone? That’s all?” said Palm Clemency on the other end.

“Yes. He’s gone.” Gone to the dogs. Katie bit her lip, and cleared her scratchy throat. “He burned in the fire—Cornelius Prichard.”

“And he was Vespers? Our killer.”


“How do you know this?”

“I just know it. Did you find the knife in the field?”


Katie took a drink of orange soda and winced. “It’s his. Pritchard’s. He was the murderer, Chief.”

“Why? Why’d he do it?”

“That I don’t know.”

“And he died in the fire that turned Shaw-Meredith House into cinders? How did it happen? Why there?”

Katie said nothing for several seconds: “He’s gone, Chief.”

Clemency exhaled. “So that’s it? That’s all I’m going to get?”

“You have his knife, isn’t that enough?”

“No. It is not.”

“Well, it’ll have to do for now. Trust me.”

There was a pause. “W
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