TITLE: Stalking Horse
Detective Inspector Jacob Howell clenched his jaw and clamped down his temper. He was tired. Hungry. Overworked. Death never rested in London and neither, it seemed, did he. Today had begun early, studying a dead man in a dockside office, and progressively plunged downward.
At least Calvert’s office was more well appointed than the one from which he’d started.
To get here he’d had to drag his sergeant onto an overcrowded diligence, a feat since Chapel loathed traveling by air. Whores going home and labourers to work mixed with the Queen’s loyal subjects as they thronged into the city for Victoria’s Jubilee. They elbowed past him without begging pardon as the airship drifted into each station. Catching a young pickpocket’s fingers tickling his waistcoat, he’d been moved by her pitiable expression. He’d let her go and then discovered she’d already lifted five quid.
Being ignored by a haughty secretary who fancied himself better than the police because he sat in a chair all day fueled his ire. The young man had only glanced up briefly when he and Chapel first arrived, nodded toward wooden chairs, and returned to his writing.
Even the relentless scratch from the spidery configuration of gleaming brass rods and gears of the replicating arm grated on Howell’s nerves. Every office in the city possessed a copying device, but this one was so dainty and delicate he could easily smash it.
He curled his hands into fists, then stopped as bruised skin tightened over his knuckles.