He shut the file and lay back on the bed, stretching out his long legs.
Closing his eyes, he let his mind wander back through the photographs he’d seen, moving them around inside his head, enlarging, merging, overlaying.
This wasn’t unusual and witnesses to the process often thought that he was dozing. But outward appearances to the contrary, the most deductive mind in the building sifted evidence and sorted out the wheat of information from the chaff of data.
One by one the suspects were eliminated in his brain until there were only three… then two… and then, finally, just the one suspect, the only person who as well as the means, motive and opportunity, had the sheers balls to pull off the murder.
The eyes opened and betrayed both satisfaction and disappointment as he knew he could never, would never, reveal the murderer to the authorities. Never again.
His eyes glanced around the place in which he spent twenty-three hours a day; it was a small, small room, kept spotlessly clean, though good hygiene was difficult to achieve and maintain in such a place.
The arrest had been unexpected, the conviction a shock; and yet the police and prosecutors had been adamant: the only way he could have ‘solved’ so many murders with so many different suspects, would have been to frame the alleged perpetrators. Anyone good enough to solve thirty-seven ‘impossible crimes’ was also accomplished enough to have committed them, and then to ensure that someone else took the blame.
And so now, in his cell, he solved murders for his own satisfaction, getting information not from his police contacts (he still vividly recalled the look of resigned contempt on the face of his former friends in the department upon his arrest) but from newspapers and magazines.
He missed being allowed to smoke; hell, he missed a lot of things. But never the puzzles.
He glanced at the window. The message had been there since the day after he had been assigned the cell.
A simple message, written on glass. Four letters, one punctuation mark: HELP!
Written on the outside of a window on the eighth floor of the prison block.
He stared at it once again.
And closed his eyes.