Now you see her…
Still haunted by memories of his last case, in which an innocent woman was accidentally killed, Bow Street Runner John Pickett welcomes the challenge of a new assignment in the West Country. Unfortunately, this time he’ll have to leave his beloved wife, Julia, behind, as he’ll be traveling in company with Harry Carson, a member of the Horse Patrol whose swaggering self-confidence is an uneasy fit with Pickett’s reserve.
Now you don’t…
After three days of trying without success to make contact with the man who sent for him, Pickett receives word from Bow Street that Julia has been abducted. Suddenly his current case takes on much more ominous implications. And if the man behind it all is the one Pickett fears it is, then Julia is in mortal danger . . .
The package was small and roughly cylindrical, and had been wrapped in heavy brown paper and tied with string. Pickett took it and walked across the room to where his companions waited. Jamie had just entered the inn, having finished his business on the harbor, while Thomas had brought in the last of the luggage and awaited his orders as to where it was to be conveyed. Carson seemed to be agitating in favor of stopping in the public room for a hot toddy with which they might fortify themselves after the discomforts of the journey.
“What’s that?” Carson asked, pausing briefly in extolling the virtues of this plan.
“I don’t know,” Pickett said, pulling one end of the string until the knot came free. “Our hostess said it had been left for me. At least, I think that’s what she said.”
“Who would even know we were going to be here?” Thomas wondered aloud. “We sure didn’t, until two days ago.”
Pickett offered no opinion on the subject. He unrolled the tube of brown paper until it disgorged its contents—whereupon his expressive countenance changed color. He uttered a strangled sound, dropping the item and its wrappings to the floor as he ran from the inn.
“What—gorblimey!” Thomas exclaimed, his face assuming a greenish cast as Carson bent to retrieve the object and hold it up for their inspection.
It was just over two inches in length and, like its wrappings, roughly cylindrical in shape. Its color was a mottled gray, although at one time it had very likely been nearer to pink.
It was, in fact, a human finger.
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