A body in the mud by the Miskatonic River is just an average day for Detective Vergil Levard. But when the cadaver shows signs of something more sinister afoot, Vergil is forced to make a deal with the devil and work with the leader of the local bootleggers, Jimmy Hogan, to track down the killers.
If Vergil were a normal copper, the strange sigil wouldn’t have meant anything to him. If Hogan were a normal mobster, Vergil wouldn’t be falling for him. And if the fishing village of Innsmouth were a normal smuggler’s front, neither of them would have to fear for their sanity.
With darkness closing in and some terror from the deep creeping up behind them, Vergil and Hogan have nothing left to hold onto except each other.
There was a slotted door down a side alley and it only took one rap with his knuckles before the cover was pulled aside and he had to suffer the scrutiny of the lowlife on guard. Vergil knew he wasn’t much to look at, that was the point of cultivating the same slicked hair as everyone else, dressing in the same hat, the same camel coat, and the same wingtips, to blend in, to be forgettable.
The doorman grunted, “What’s the password?”
“I need to see Mr. Hogan.”
“Don’t know nobody with that name.”
“One of his people is dead down by the river, I thought he would like to know.”
The tiny window slot grated shut again. Vergil stood and waited. Spring wasn’t warming up as quick as he would have liked, and his gloves were still sitting in his locker at work. He had just stamped his feet to keep the blood moving when the door swung open. He had expected the bimbo doorman, not a flapper who barely came up to his shoulder. “This way if you please.”
They went down a flight of stairs and stepped out into a completely different building than the one upstairs. The jazz was being played by a band at the far end of a hall that must have stretched the length of the street. There was an honest to God chandelier dangling above them and a fully stocked bar Vergil conscientiously didn’t notice running along one side of the room. This early in the day there weren’t many folks in and the dancefloor was bare, but there was still a hubbub from the students and wealthier townies mingling and sipping bootleg moonshine from fancy cocktail glasses. It looked like a high society party getting into full swing and Vergil wanted to slink right back out the way he had come in. He clenched his jaw and tried to keep up with the redhead in the indecently short dress as she wove in and out of the crowd seamlessly. He was expecting an office secreted somewhere around the edges of the room, but instead the girl stopped at a booth in the back. Once Vergil had caught up she gave him a nod and faded into the crowd.
Sitting in the booth with nobody but a bottle of scotch for company was the most Joe Brooks-looking gangster Vergil had ever seen. There was a hint of red and a wave in his hair. His suit was black and tailored like it had been poured out of one of those foreign bottles on the shelves behind the bar, but it was the little details that really jumped out. The peacock waistcoat. The matching bowtie. The emerald cufflinks peeking out of his sleeves. When he met Vergil’s eyes and gave him a terse smile the hammering of his heart stopped for a moment.
“Please join me. Have a drink, on the house.”
Vergil slipped into the booth, sitting as far from the other man as possible, taking care not to stare. “I don’t drink.”
Hogan let out a huff of laughter. “I’ve got the only dry detective in Massachusetts. Are you a bluenose?”
Vergil shrugged. “I don’t like feeling out of control.”
For a moment the smirk on Hogan’s face faded. “Neither do I, but this is the world we’ve got to live in.”
“A man was found dead this morning. A smuggler running his ship up the Miskatonic in the night. He had been shot in the back. The boat was gone. Do you know anything about it?”
“If I did, you wouldn’t be sitting there right now wagging your chin.”
“You are trying to tell me you don’t know anything about a bootlegger ship running up the river?”
“Why would I?”
“Because you’re a bootlegger.”