Wendell Devereaux had worked in New York as a police consultant and had, in his day, ingeniously solved some renowned cases, which had baffled the Big Apple's finest homicide detectives. We had become acquainted with him a little over four months before Mr. Schoenburg's murder, when he had made his way to our little town to settle into a quietly anonymous retirement near his daughter, Darlene.
Darlene was one of those odd immigrants to the town who apparently chose to live here, rather than the vast majority of us who merely accept it. She was an artist, perhaps yearning to escape from the frantic busyness of New York City, a pleasant, if somewhat withdrawn, woman. Most of us had warmed up to her right away, and she had become so much a part of our little town that oftentimes it was easy to forget that she was in fact a foreigner from that wider, messier world. Most of us had at one time wondered how Darlene made a living as an artist, particularly because most of us could not remember ever having purchased any of her work. Perhaps she never did make a living of it after all, and perhaps that was why she had promptly married Gary Lawlor, who everyone knew had come into money by his aunt, the late Kate Fitzgerald.
But anyhow, Darlene stayed, and when Wendell Deveraux showed up over thirty years later, we were not quite sure how to receive him. He was a strange, sharp old man, not like his daughter in looks or affect. He had a long nose, toothbrushy eyebrows, and a surly white mustache, which gave his face a peculiar pout. He spoke in a hurried New York accent and sported a variety of tics and nervous twitches, which many of us theorized stemmed from some sort of brain condition. And he did not seem to like us. Very rarely did he leave the crooked little cottage on the hill, which he had made his personal mission to fix up. When he did, he dressed in neat suits, accomplished his business quickly, and returned home with the apparent goal of issuing the fewest number of greetings and personal niceties possible.
I will admit, I was perhaps a bit skeptical when I found that Sheriff Hornby had convinced Mr. Deveraux to come out of retirement and help with Mr. Schoenburg's case. Brilliant detective though he may have been, he didn't know how things went in our sleepy little town, and he didn't seem all that bothered to find out. He was an outsider, and he couldn't possibly understand us. But I happened to be wrong on all accounts about Deveraux, and as it turns out, an outsider is exactly what our little town needed.