A Jump To Conclusions No. 4

The doors opened, and a uniform pointed us down the hall. I followed a half-step behind Amber. She looked to be deep in thought, so I didn’t disturb her. I could hardly blame her, even after five years. My brand of sleuthing wasn’t, precisely speaking, discredited, but criminal profiling had certainly fallen out of favor as Nexus had grown into a modern data state. The ordinary crime presented such a cornucopia of evidence to the trained eye that psychological methods, by their very nature less absolutely reliable, had grown less important. This presented the Investigative Arm with a problem when faced with more unusual cases, and it was a gap in experience I was more than willing to fill.

Inspector-Sublieutenant Andrew Carpenter met us at the door into the apartment. He was my go-to mental image of the burly Caledonian archetype, red-haired and heavyset. He spoke with a controlled burr and a wide smile. “Dr. Hill. It’s always a pleasure to be working with you.”

He shook my hand with bone-snapping force. “Inspector,” I said. “It does seem that we always meet under the most unfortunate of circumstances.”

He laughed bellowingly and waved us in. “We earn our happy endings,” he said. “If you and the lieutenant will permit me to give you the tour…”

The apartment was nearly a mirrored copy of mine. The entry led into a hallway, the bedroom and bathroom behind doors to the left and the living spaces through broad arches to the right. At the far end—that is, on the outside wall of the building—the living room ended in a sliding glass door, beyond which was the balcony. The door stood open.

Crime scene technicians bustled about under the watchful eye of one of Technician-Lieutenant Lian Li, one of Amber’s subordinates. She had only been attached to Amber’s unit for a few months, so I’d had little time to acquaint myself with her. She waved to Amber, but let Carpenter reveal her findings.

“We found flash residue by the door,” he said. “Lab results aren’t back yet, but Ms. Li thinks we have a shooter just outside the apartment, shooting to the balcony through yon arch.”

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