The harsh wind of justice is at my back as I watch the sun set over town. Rafferty Falls, a place forgotten by time, the highway system, and occasionally the US Census Bureau. But as a detective, it’s my job to remember every detail; every shoe-print in the aged dust, every facial expression worn by these red-blooded Americans locked in blood feuding. In this town, there’s been a death that stinks of foul play. Or just a suicide. Who knows?

Let me tell you a joke. One mayor walks into a bar. A bar called “Crime Scene.” No, that wasn’t the joke. That was just the name of the bar. The bar is also a grill. I’m going to keep telling the joke now. Within an hour, the mayor is dead. That’s the end of the joke, and as a detective, it’s my job to figure out the punchline. Murder? Alcohol poisoning? Or just a suicide? The only forensic evidence? Bite marks and ulcers. Not your usual case. And even though the case is still as wide open as the pale sky, four suspects have already materialized for me.

The first is a Swede, Oskaar Johannson, known by friends as “Skaar Jo.” A male librarian who runs the Rafferty Falls Library and Swedish Cultural Center and Bar and Grill, he ostensibly wouldn’t hurt a fly. But people who know people in the know have told me that this man had a serious bone to pick with Mayor Eoghen O’Connor, and I’m not talking about the kind of bone that a dog chews on.

Speaking of dogs, our next suspect is known only as “Dog Catcher.” In Rafferty Falls, only purebred dogs are allowed, and Dog Catcher is responsible for enforcing this quaint rule. How does he do it? A Siberian husky, trained to kill any mutts she can sink her teeth into. The Dog Catcher is a loyal servant of the public good, but the bite marks on the mayor look mightily like the thrashings of a furious hound.

Next up is “Old” Old Anders. One hundred and nine years old and the four hundred and seventy-three time champion of Crime Scene Bar & Grill weekly trivia competition, Old Anders is a man from another era. He’s as wise as the next 109-year-old, but then again, he’s just as crazy too. After a vigorous political disagreement with the mayor only a week ago, he was missing from the trivia competition the night of the murder, or suicide. And as a detective, it’s my job to point out that that’s pretty suspicious.

Our final suspect is Charlie Murderer, barkeep and grillkeep at the Crime Scene Bar & Grill. He claims to have been in the back, keeping grill, when the mayor died, but by all known accounts he was the last man to see the mayor. You can tell a lot about a man from his name, and Charlie Murderer’s name is Charlie Murderer.

So, there you have it. The pieces are all on the board, the players have been dealt their hands: it’s time for the game to begin. And as a detective? It’s my job to win.

—B. Hollander-Bodie