Marcus stared at the pictures on Lt Jeremie Jackson's desk, his brow furrowed as he took in the details.
"What do you think?"
Looking up at the police Lt who, frankly, looked like he hadn't gotten more than three hours of sleep in the last 48 hours, he shrugged.
"I think that when I told you breakfast was on you I didn't mean stale jailhouse coffee and donuts."
Jackson tapped the photos with one long tapered finger.
"Focus, Dockerson. I'm talking about the case here. We have two deaths in two days. The first one is reported by a neighbor who sees a mysterious car arrive and and mysterious woman drop off a note at the gate."
"The second one a note is found by the housekeeper taped to the door of the residence as she is coming into work that day. Following which she has a complete breakdown when she finds her employer in the same condition as we did Brice Halister."
Marcus looked deeply at the photos as he muched away on the donut in his hand.
Melody reached over to pick one of them up from the desk and get a closer look at it herself, turning it this way and that as if it would help her to see something in the background that they had missed or the camera had failed to catch.
"Brice Halister, novelist and Denise Callaway, noted scientific speaker," She repeated the facts that had been given to them upon entering the precinct. "Both well known, especially for a small town like ours. Both private people trying to keep out of the public eye except for their publicity stints with speaches and book signings. Any other similarities."
Jeremie shook his head. "The way they died. Burned to ashes in a fire that had to be hot enough to melt everything but their teeth but which touched nothing around them. Not even the floor beneath them. Other than that they didn't even know each other. Jones and Porter are on the case and looking up the leads, slim as they are."
"The fact that notes were found at both places lead you to believe this mysterious woman who was seen at the first place is involved?" Marcus asked though he knew the answer.
"That's right. We don't know who she is. The neighbor didn't get a good look at her face. She was wrapped up in a coat, hat and sweater hiding her identity."
Marcus and Melody gave each other a long look.
"It's June. In the South."
"Yeah, it's what we call suspicious behavior."
"It's what I call nuts-in-a-basket," Melody said putting the picture she had been examining back on the desk.
"So, if the person who dropped the note was so wrapped up and unidentifiable, what makes the neighbor think it was a woman."
"He said...and I quote...'If a guy had legs like that I'd turn gay in a second'."
"Hummm." Was Marcus' only comment as he sat back in his chair, the examination of the pictures done.
"And that means?"
"It means Im interested and we'll take the consulting job."
"Same guidelines as before. You don't talk about anything outside of questions you have to ask and, if details aren't released to the public, they don't come from you."
"Yeah, yeah, we know the drill, Jeremie. If you didn't trust us to keep department confidentiality, you wouldn't have brought us in."
Jackson sighed and nodded. "Fine, but I've got to go over it. Department policy."
"Do you ever find yourself choking on all that red tape?" Marcus asked as he stood up and made ready to leave.
"All the time," Jackson said in a grim tone. "All the damn time."