He knew there were tricks — no — not tricks, techniques, there are techniques for getting to see what you’re not supposed to. Let’s say the register at reception in the hotel lobby. You drop the pen or you fake a cough and ask for a glass of water, and while the clerk is distracted you quickly turn the book your way and scan the page for what you’re after. Let’s say the room number of a particular person. Or let’s say the name of a particular person occupying a certain room the number of which is no mystery. He knew all that.
But as it happened, the counter was a slab of granite and there was no book to mar its smooth extension, not even a computer screen, which complicated things. Also there was nothing he needed to know. For now. He was simply waiting for the receptionist to give him his key and number so that he could go up to his room. This lack of knowing, or rather this lack of a need to know, made him feel less like a Detective. And the feeling rankled because he was unsure what kind of Detective he really was to begin with.
While he was examining this lack, trying to locate it precisely in his body, the receptionist handed him his key. She pointed out the Breakfast Room to the left and mentioned the hours. Then she pointed out the Assembly Room through an archway to the right, and beyond that the lift. She also offered to call a porter but he said no, he could manage, he was travelling light, just the one suitcase with wheels. He was the kind of Detective who did not like to be followed to his room. That was one thing he was sure of.
When he passed the Assembly Room on his way to the lift he saw a noticeboard on an easel, an oblong of black plastic to which white plastic letters could be attached. Welcome! the board said. 101 Detectives: Sub-Saharan Africa. Meet and Greet 6 p.m. Private (eye) function :). He glanced at his watch and saw that it was 3 p.m. and this pleased him, because it gave him enough time to settle in and take a shower and maybe nap and then think for a while about what kind of Detective he was or wanted to be.
His room was on the third floor, the top floor, and he had booked it for that reason. For the escape routes. But he got out on the second floor in case anyone was watching the dial in the lobby that ticked off the numbers. Then he walked swiftly up one flight to the third and went along the corridor to his room, pulling the suitcase on wheels, noting cupboard doors and emergency exits and the herringbone pattern in the carpet and especially the trolley full of mops and brooms and crumpled sheets that might spell trouble.
The key was a plastic card with holes in it. When he inserted it into the lock a green light blinked and then he stood to one side and pushed the door open. He wanted to case the joint, but the door was on a spring-loaded elbow and shut itself. So he reinserted the card in the lock and wedged the door open with his foot. Voices. For a moment he froze. But then he saw from the flickering light in the room that it was just the TV set talking to itself. He went in.
The voice was describing the facilities and attractions but the image on the screen was still. A lion licking its paw like a kitten. He remembered this later. There was a message on the screen: Sunny Bonani welcomes Mr Joseph Blumenfeld to 101 Detectives: Sub-Saharan Africa. We are at your service. The message was in white letters but Joseph Blumenfeld was in red and it leapt out at him like a suspect from the shadows. For a moment he froze and a tight fist of fear clenched in his gut. That name rang a bell.
And then he remembered that he was undercover. I am Joseph Blumenfeld, he thought. For a moment he felt like an impostor. Until he recalled the words of his mentor, Long John de Lange, who used to say that all Detectives sometimes feel like charlatans, it comes with the territory, and the memory of his dear friend and teacher, with his quirky fluency in dead languages and his flawed understanding of the martial arts, cheered him. He found the remote and switched off the TV. Then he sat on the bed and looked around.
Nothing exceptional. Yet he felt at home. He felt at home in this unremarkable room, which he had entered a moment ago. And that made him wonder whether he was not at heart a very ordinary Detective. He had worked so hard to identify his flaws and quirks, those traits that would set him apart from his flawed and quirky peers. But now he wondered whether being unremarkable might not be his special quality. Although he suspected that many another Detective was ordinary too. Exceptional, ordinary, it was a matter of choice. Hobson’s.
Hobson would be a good name when travelling incognito, he thought, reaching into his jacket pocket for notebook and pen. His fingers brushed an edge there and he froze for a moment. Then he recalled the wide-eyed man at the airport who had pressed a leaflet into his hand and how he had folded it in half lengthways without even looking at it and put it away in his pocket. He wondered whether that had been wise. He took out the paper and unfolded it. The cold fist in his gut unclenched.
How toxic are you? he read. Take this simple test and find out. There was a list of questions with two small blocks before each one for Yes or No. ☐☐1. Have you felt fatigued for no apparent reason? ☐☐2. Do you sometimes feel ‘wooden’ and lifeless? ☐☐3. Do you feel less alert than you used to? ☐☐4. Do you sometimes get a feeling of light-headedness? In his head, which felt light and wooden simultaneously, like a balsawood lantern on his flesh-and-bone shoulders, he ticked one Yes block after the other.
Yes. He felt less alert than he used to. As he tried to locate this feeling in his body, Louella Scarlozzi, the femme fatale of the Coroner’s Office, Italian-American, gruff, tall, came into his mind. He flew in through her ear, down an earhole where wax clung like wasps’-nests, past the hammer and anvil, making a beeline for her secret thoughts. What kind of Detective am I? Eardrum or tympanum? Gullet or aesophagus? Pussy or pudenda? A Detective needs a language almost as much as a language needs a Detective.
He turned over the leaflet. More pertinent questions. (De Lange: Never mind the answers. Ask the right questions.) ☐☐5. Do you feel irritable without reason or cause? ☐☐6. Do you have less energy and vitality than you used to? ☐☐7. Do you find it difficult to get excited about people or things? Yes, yes, yes. These affirmations fell on him like blows and he slumped down on the duvet. ☐☐8. Do you have trouble reading or learning new things? Yes. ☐☐9. Do you feel anxious and don’t know why?
The ceiling was greasy and pockmarked. It looked like acned skin. But what caused the fist to clench in his gut was that it seemed so low. Vigilance! He sprang up and gazed about. Neglecting the basics. Am I that kind of Detective? He paced out the distance from door to window. There was a ballpoint pen on the dresser with Sunny Bonani printed on its barrel. He used this pen to write the figure on the bottom of the leaflet next to the name L. Ron Hubbard.
L for what? It was suspicious. The whole name was the undercover sort of thing Long John de Lange would make up. L for Leather. Were there Scientological Detectives? He had never before considered the question of religion in his capacity as a Detective. A failure on his part. One of the first things a Detective ought to get clear in his mind. He thought about the preponderance of obsessive-compulsive Jews and guilt-ridden Catholics inhabiting Detective World. Also Presbyterians and Buddhists. Who faced the facts with equanimity.
He himself was a lapsed Methodist. He wondered if Methodism made for meticulous investigation and if there were any Methodist Detectives of note. He would have to consider the literature. These thoughts about research and religion pulled him in two different directions. An unbearable pressure began to build up in his chest or his gut, he couldn’t be sure, as if two cold fists were clenching and unclenching, pumping tension into his abdomen. To defuse the situation, he opened the minibar. For a moment he froze.
As he gazed at the little bottles of Gilbey’s and J&B, his mind went back to 101 Detectives: South Pacific and the amount of drinking it demanded. Drinking and Detection go together like Gin and Tonic, Smith and Wesson, Assault and Battery. He remembered the dry Detectives clutching bottles of mineralwasser in the Kontiki Lounge while their sodden colleagues languished under the beach umbrellas outside, nursing their fatal flaws in big careworn hands, listening to the icy chiming of the quirks in their shot glasses.
Fridge-light fell on the scuffed toes of his shoes. He remembered this later. What would his sharp-eyed counterparts say? Falling apart. He wondered why he hadn’t buffed the black brogues with the lanolin-impregnated sponge that was resting on a shelf in the wardrobe. In all likelihood. Why he hadn’t opened the doors and drawers, looking for things disturbingly ordinary. Haunting in their ordinariness. A loose thread in the trouser press, a dead bulb in the reading lamp. A careless Detective is a dead Detective.
He took the room-service menu from the dresser and sat again on the bed. On the cover of the menu was a lion licking its paw. He had seen that somewhere before. He opened the menu and looked at the prices. Exorbitant. He was a poor Detective, that was one thing he was sure of. A down-at-heel gumshoe. He was not travelling on an expense account, did not fly business class, did not have pals who could lay on the Johnnie Walker Blue.
Penniless. He put the menu aside and began to open the doors of the wardrobe until he found the one with the mirror. He looked at his mouth as he said: Penurious. Impecunious. Parsimonious. In what damp recess of my mind have these words incubated? He turned his head one way and another. The brow: high this way, middle that. The mouth: small and pinched, broad and smiling. There are two sides to every story, coin, playing card, seven-single, football match, tango.
Detectives at leisure. Tanned Americans with their pockets full of beachsand, pale Swedes tramping snow up the stairs, Australians fragrant with sunblock SPF 30+. De Lange: Never trust a Detective with his own motorboat. True. But there is more to life than Detection. Even the poorest practitioner needs to get his mind off the job. He considered the hobbies: poker, polo, needlepoint, marathon running, chess, snorkelling, traditional Irish fiddle music, angling, philately, taxidermy, radio-controlled model aircraft, the cult of the budgerigar.
It surfaced in his mind like a bubble from a severed air line. 101 Detectives: Cancún. The pointless rigmarole of introduction — Hello, my name is Carlos and I’m a Detective — when every one of them was undercover. That clown Tobias from Frankfurt had swallowed a contact lens on the plane and was edgy. And then Aliber who was running the show brought in the sniffer dog, an overexcitable German Shepherd, for some party game or other and Tobias went ballistic.
Odd how the drinkers always banded together. When everyone else had gone to bed, the Protestants would be trying to drink the Catholics under the table. In Detective World, as in any other, like sought like. The costive sleuths of Scandinavian extraction and logical bent (Gustaf Magnusson, Magnus Andersson, Anders Gustafsson) smuggled their home-baked rye and fermented fish into the breakfast room. Even the Lutheran haemophiliac had company, an agnostic bleeder from Skipton who had met the Yorkshire Ripper.
Why did he keep coming to these things? He always went away saying: Never again. And then a new summons came, in serial-killer typography, on the back of a handbill for homeopathic remedies, pinned under the wiper blade of the Ford Bantam in the dead of night, in mirror script, in red lipstick on the bathroom cabinet, in schoolgirl Mandarin, on a yellow Post-it stuck to a brick, lobbed through a window. The marketing people never gave up.
And neither should he. Perhaps it was the friendship that kept him coming back, the fellowship, the camaraderie. Only a Detective knew what another Detective went through. Only another Detective understood what went into casing the joint, tracing the movement, combing the printout, testing the hypothesis, cracking the code, wearing the wire, calling for backup, taking the fall, cleaning the wound, typing the report, citing the reference. No explanations were needed, just a cast in the eye.
He had his connections, his 101 crew. At every Meet and Greet there were one or two nearly familiar characters. Chums. He would scour their craggy features for clues while they punched his shoulder or smell their receding hairlines when they leaned in close for a battering embrace. What was that oceanic note? Norwegian salmon? Guatemalan devilfish? Herring. It brought back 101 Detectives: Den Haag. Better say nothing. Taciturn was also a style. Perhaps even his.
He should analyse these over-friendly colleagues. A common denominator might help him find his place in Detective World. A pattern. He conjured up a face, Chief Inspector Connell of the Gorbals, but all that came back was the mutton-chop whiskers. And then, unbidden, the loose-limbed frame of Dr Louella Scarlozzi, followed by the ethanol undertone of her handcream. Once, when she’d opened her handbag to look for her shades, a rubber glove had fallen out.
Suddenly he missed his wife. He was a married Detective. That was one thing he was sure of. One whose wife and kids had paid the price for his work. Whose wife had stuck by him through thick and thin. Mostly thin. The world was full of angry divorced Detectives, whose wives kept the kids away from them, and bitter bachelor Detectives who spent their nights in bars. He was not one of those.
He missed his kids. Little Davy who wanted to be a Detective like his dad. Little Sookie the jolly little June bug who was having trouble learning to read. Little Okefenokee who could play Wagner on the pennywhistle. Not-so-Little Lilo who could count to leventy-leven on her thumbs. Lovable little scallywags. He should take them all something. Something better than a last-minute box of Smarties from the Duty Free on his way home.
He shut the wardrobe and opened the minibar. The Toblerone was exorbitant and calorific, but no one was counting. He pushed the bar out of the cardboard wrapper with his forefinger, peeled away the silver foil, snapped off three blocks and put them in his mouth. They were cold. He pressed them against his palate with his tongue. Swiss design. Very odd, he thought. Like eating the spine of a chocolate mammal.
A bittersweet prospect: Joseph Blumenfeld, Morbidly Obese Detective. Confined to bed in his spongebobbed room, conducting his business from a wireless bellytop nested in the flab, sausage fingers flying. Cut off from the hurly-burly and therefore even better suited to being a Detective. Strange to say. He pushed another five vertebrae into his mouth. He could pile on the pounds. There was still time, if he put his mouth to it.
Many things had been sent to try a Detective over the years: opium addiction, alcoholism, blindness, Catholicism, melancholia, loss of limb, obsessive compulsion, motion sickness, hydrophobia, lycanthropy, lack of stature, tone deafness. No burden was so great it could not be turned to account. Who was he to complain about a mild case of panic disorder, high cholesterol levels and subcutaneous acne? No one’s feet are exactly the same size.
The world was his oyster. And yet there were many kinds of Detective he would never be. He would never be a terribly black Detective, no matter how hard he practised. He would not even be a convincing African Detective. Not that the idea appealed much. People asked too many questions, there were too many forms to complete. Better to be a Detective of the World. Of Detective World.
Chances of being a lady Detective were nearly zero. No ma’am, he would never be such. Disadvantaged Detective? Zero. Persecuted Detective? Less than. He would not flee atrocities or overcome obstacles. Not really. He would never be a lesbian Muslim Detective of Turkish origins. Not in a month of Sundays. Resident in Kreuzberg. No ways. With one eye. Fuck that. Mother with Alzheimer’s. What’s the matter with you?
It was sad. But lodged in that sad, like a slug in a gut, was a lump of joy. A wingnut in a sausage roll? There was comfort in the narrowing of possibility and there was freedom in restraint. He would never be a retired prize-winning jockey Detective, bones were too big. But it was not too late for riding lessons, if he could overcome his hippophobia.
Shit, shave and shampoo, as they say in the service. Let’s do it! Chop chop. Before he stepped into the cubicle, he hung his linen jacket on the towel rail. When – if – he hit the Meet and Greet later, he would be professionally crumpled or not at all. De Lange: Never trust a Detective with creases in his pants and none in his jacket. Damn straight.
He shouldered the door and thumbed the lug until the jet was scalding. He felt his lethargy burning off, sluiced away over belly and thigh, going down the tubes with suds and musk-scented conditioner from the little lab specimen bottles. He flew down the pipe where sludge and sewerage and scum were caulked like hives. He let go laziness, fancy, illusion. All ears. Totally nose.
Then he palmed off the spume and grubbed the flange until the jet grew icy. He mugged up to the stream. His nerves jangled through. Now he manned up and hunkered down and so forth. Drying off, double time, vigilance rose to the skin. Dress for the occasion, it says on the label. Costume is crucial and so are prepositions. He remembered this later.
There was a towelling dressing gown on a hook in the wardrobe and he put it on. An embroidered crest over the heart showed a lion rampant, licking its paw. It came back to him now. Towelling slippers too. He snuggled his feet into them and wriggled his toes. Comfy. Verbs ending in –uggle and –iggle. He thought about that. Nothing escaped him.
Plan for the worst-case scenario, as it says in the manual. In every cockamamie manual between here and Timbuctoo or maybe Poughkeepsie. Somewhere else’s somewhere else. His language was acting up and it scared him. No argument. Cellophane? He hooked it out from under the bed with a wire coathanger: the slim plastic wrapper from an individually wrapped toothpick. He bagged it.
Then he went to the window, kinked one blade of the venetian blind with his forefinger, and brought his eye close. The parking lot was a sticky plate of black gumbo and yellow herringbones. There was just one car down there in a viscous smear of sunlight, a late model Subaru with snowchains on the tyres. A small herd of zebra.
For a moment he thought it was the hire-car he had driven in from the airport. But that was 101 Detectives: Yellow River. They run into one another if you fail to keep the edges straight. Now he remembered the bus ride, men with machetes slashing the fenders, rocks bouncing off the hood. Burning tyres. Sub-Saharan Africa, man! Bang bang.
He stood there for a long time, looking down on the lot, until the tip of his finger grew numb. The windows of the car were misted over, he thought, as if someone was in there breathing. The sun dropped. The shadow of the lodge seeped out towards the Subaru like a pool of blood from a gut-shot motherfucker.
He looked for words. For a precise phrase to make something happen. Here he comes now. No. Here come trouble. Who the hell speaks like that? What have we here. No, it was all wrong. Fuck me George. Better. Sonofabitch. One word. That’s the ticket, trick, technique. Few words as possible. Fuck. Hey. Yo. But no one came.
He kicked off the slippers. He was feeling more precise again, calibrated, indexed. He paced out the distance from door to window, heel to toe, and wrote the number on the leaflet. The question snagged his eye again: How toxic are you? He should have followed his father’s advice and become a pharmacist. Or a quantity surveyor.
Then again he would bet a pound to a pinch of table salt that every second quantity surveyor wished he was a Detective. People thought Detective World was glamorous, they thought it was all cocktails and cadavers. They had no idea how hard it was. All the quirks had been taken. That was half the problem.
Say he learnt to play the ukulele. He could be the music-making, mountain-climbing Detective. Then one fine day, as he toiled up to base camp, it would come on the breeze: Follow every rainbow … Yep, that broad with the banjo, who was climbing the third-highest peak on every continent, had beaten him to it.
Then again he loved card tricks and newsprint and foreign tongues. He could fold newsbills into pigeons, he could pull pidgins out of a hat. What would take you further in Detective World? he wondered. Mumbo-jumbo or hocus-pocus? Mumbo-pocus! Be paper-foldy, magic-maky Detective. Jolly-fine day, come by base camp, who dat? Kumbaya my Lord.
He thought about Polkinghorn, the Detective’s Detective, who had the earbud franchise. The Polkster, the Hornster, the Budster. Many affectionate nicknames ending with –ster. He was 101-Detectives-in-one. When he fell off the paddywagon and broke his panama there wasn’t a dry eye in Detective World. All buds to every body. And vice versa.
Loved a corpse outlined in chalk on the living-room floor. Every home should have one, a dead thing, a visual effect, a body of evidence. If only there were enough of them to supply the demand. There were never enough victims to go round. The Polksters were arm-wrestling the Hornsters for cadavers.
Four thirty already! The second hand swept past with its fist clenched. He thought too much and did too little. A Detective had to strike a balance between thought and action or be carried off in mid-deduction before his work was done. All the great Detectives were dead before their time.
All the great Detectives are dead full stop. Or so it seemed to him. He called them to mind, the gentlemen with meerschaum pipes and watchchains, in their trenchcoats and fedoras, their chequered vests and pasts. Flaws were grander back then, but more forgivable; quirks were truer and more endearing.
The moderns had no manners, no sense of decorum or shame. They were far too concerned with wounds. Their minds were narrow and their mouths were foul. Motherfucker this and cocksucker that. Their flaws were pathologies, their quirks were disorders. You could hardly tell the Detectives from the non-.
Everybody is a Detective now, everybody and his brother. That’s the other half of the problem, he thought. Wherever you go, you trip over a Detective, peering under a bed or crouched behind a bush, bristling with equipment, probing and prodding, and dabbing to see if it glows.
They’re over-equipped, under-trained and ill-mannered. Case in point: Detective Spivis of 101 Detectives: Baden-Württemberg with his Iron Maiden T-shirt and his thick-lipped trainers. Tossing peanuts into his mouth from an unsalted stash in a moonbag. Talking in monosyllables at the Meet and Greet. One of the boys.
To think that this slob with a ring through his eyebrow is top dog of Detective World. He has a loft in the city and a cabin in the woods, but he winters in the South of France. Changes his address more often than his socks.
Then the sayings of De Lange chided him. This one in particular: Detection is its own reward. The maestro was right, he thought, envy is unseemly in a Detective. So what if there are too many files on your desk. It comes with the territory.
He should get on with it. He had earbuds, he had tweezers, he had a little torch. He had a dozen bottles with childproof lids. He should swab something and see if it changed colour. Stub the lug, rootle it down in the grab-bag.
He dug this snub-nosed lingo slubbing out of his pug-ugly mug. It was good. It was endings in –ub and –ug. He could get a grip on stuff with it. Solve shit. Make some moves he needed to get down in Detective World.
Always be first at the scene of the accident, quick through the barricades, flashing your face like a badge. Always be first at the buffet, nosing the canapés, tossing them back by the fistful. Never be first at the Meet and Greet.
Meeting and greeting. His heart sank at the thought. Of course, it would be the usual free-for-all. Whose serial killer had more notches on his prosthesis, whose molester was more perverse, whose victim had more Facebook friends, whose perp was trending.
He wasn’t putting himself out there: that’s why the jobs were so scarce. He needed a new business card. Joseph Blumenfeld: Bespoke Detective. Esquire? Nope, old hat. Your Boutique Agency for pop-up surveillance. For made-to-measure security solutions. For artisanal what?
Mugshots. Merch. Face on an eggwhisk, name on a golf umbrella. If your product won’t move you may as well take your name off the door. Lie down on the carpet with a stick of chalk in your hand.
Then he thought about Valerie and the Littles. Davy, Sookie, Okefenokee and Lilo. What would become of them if he checked out? That greedy bastard Chief Detective Inspector Detective Chief Chief Culp had looted the Detectives’ Provident Fund.
Hand in glove with the 101 set. He pictured them primping themselves for the Meet and Greet. Combing their hairpieces, holstering their deep-sea pencils, huffing on their smartphones and polishing them on the linings of their what?
He pictured them leaving their rooms. And just then the doors went doef doef doef like distant gunshots, the flat bark and so on. They thought they would see him in the Assembly Room. Think again.
Doef. That was Vermeulen. She would close one dyed-blonde hair in the crack of the door. Monitoring the perimeter. Smart cookie. He saw her adjusting her fringe, now one hair short, in the lift mirror.
Doef. Chief Inspector Connell of the Gorbals. Hanging the Do not disturb sign on the handle of his door, flipping the one on his neighbour’s so it read Make up the room. Highland humour.
Connell would take the stairs, working on that paunch of his as usual. It’s not the soft underbelly of crime that gets you, Savolainen always said, it’s the hard overbelly of the law.
That crazy Finn! With his goofy bow ties and his bungee-jumping. Poking Connell with a long forefinger. He heard footsteps in the corridor, drawing closer, pausing, fading away. And it scared him.
Doef. The sultry Scarlozzi. She would make an entrance through the kitchen. It was one of the great escape routes, almost as good as the air-conditioning duct. Whether coming or going.
Going! I should get out now while there’s still time, he thought. He hauled up the blinds and put his mouth close to the cold glass. Still breathing. That’s something.
He paced out the distance from window to door. He looked at the blackboard square of night in the window frame and the chalky formulae of stars and neon.
Should I throw a chair through it? He saw himself for a split second in the shards, almost connected, before he fell away in pieces. Ice on asphalt.
Never mind the window, he should go through the door. There was nothing to stop him, except his own failings as a Detective, his foibles and frailties.
He remembered the invitation folded seven times in a fortune cookie. 101 Detectives: Sub-Saharan Africa. Be there! Bang. He remembered the names of the Organizing Committee.
There’s a pattern I’m missing, he thought. A pattern I’m missing. Or is there a pattern I’m missing? And then it struck him. A pattern.
I know none of them. Where is Wouter ‘Nougat’ Niedermayr? Where is Scarlozzi, L, MD? The pointless rigmarole of introduction. It doesn’t add up.
He took the leaflet from the dresser. How toxic are you? He looked at the numbers scrawled across it in Blumenfeld’s symptomatic hand.
He remembered riding the bus in from the airport alone. He remembered checking in alone. Is there a Detective in the house?
He dialled reception. While the phone rang he folded the leaflet in half precisely and ran his nails along the crease.
Let’s say the whole thing is a set-up, he thought, an elaborate sting to do away with me. Sting-aling-aling, pal!
He folded the top corners down to the crease and pressed them flat. Half a question: anxious without cause?
No, anxious with cause. Plenty. I should get out while there’s still time. Before they come for me.
Half of another problem: fatigued for no apparent reason? Less fatigued than depleted. He dropped the phone.
He looked again at the door. But still he did not move. He was thinking. Folding.
Is resolve a failing or a flaw? If I leave, who will finish the paperwork?
Who will wrap things up? He froze for a moment, for old times’ sake.
He unfolded the wings precisely. There was still time to find the what?
He launched the pig towards the window. It flew into white space.
Make the right gesture. Try. That’s what it bubbles down to.
I am accustomed to waiting. It comes with the territory.
He pictured a wee paper sandwich board: Joe Blumenfeld.
1 (one) Detective: Sub-Saharan Africa. Herringbones (Pty) Ltd.
It brought a lump to his eye.
And a tear to his throat.
A what in the snuffbox?
Make up the room.
He felt small.
Excerpted from 101 Detectives by Ivan Vladislavić. Copyright (c) 2015 by Ivan Vladislavić. Reprinted with permission of & Other Stories.