There’s a body hidden in the Need/Want and a town full of suspects. So whodunnit?
The corpse belongs to one Hunter Bell, former proprietor of the Need/Want, wife-beating husband to Kenya, and all-around baddie. His only defender is Deputy Tommy; once upon a time, he saved the grifter from certain death at the hands of Datak Tarr, and procured him a job with the lawkeeper.
So who killed him? Was it Kenya, trying to end his abuse and take over his business? Amanda, trying to save her sister? Or perhaps Datak Tarr, who challenged his authority in the fighting ring?
When the Sensoth bartender Jered is found dead, his neck slit in Casti-assassination style, there’s only one obvious choice.
Nolan grabs Datak in the middle of town and hauls him into the lawkeeper’s station, accusing him of murder.
But did our resident Casti brute really commit this crime?
No. He’s been framed, and Nolan knows it. The lawkeeper’s banking on Datak leading them straight to the real killer. He goes straight to Rafe McCaully, with whom he once bonded over mutual hatred for Bell.
And speaking of the tense relationship between Datak and Rafe, the latter informs his future Castithan in-law that their children will not be inheriting his mines. Furious, Datak demands that Alak call off the wedding. When Alak reluctantly tells Christie, she runs out crying. Rafe and Alak have a heart to heart, and despite Datak’s protestations, the wedding’s back on.
Stahma gives Christie a veil to wear, noting her discomfort with the metal helmet (telo) that covers a bride’s eyes in Castithan tradition. When Datak asks why Christie isn’t wearing the telo at the ceremony, Stahma feigns ignorance.
There’s something else missing from the wedding…or, rather, someone. Former Mayor Nicky has left her seat empty. Nolan finds her body in her car; she killed herself, leaving behind a confession. Bell and Jered both died at her hands, and she couldn’t bear the thought of prison when the truth was discovered.
But is that the whole story? In a shocking twist, we learn that Nicky was a disguised Indogene, and Bell walked in on Doc Ywell preforming a medical exam on her. He demanded money for his silence, and Nicky murdered him, much to Doc Ywell’s consternation. Jered walked in on the crime, and though he’d kept the secret for many years, Nicky was afraid he’d talk. Having helped hide the body, his hair was at the scene of the crime, and it was only a matter of time before he was implicated.
And the suicide? Nicky didn’t kill herself…Doc Ywell did. No longer a destroyer, but a healer–an ironic statement she makes even as she injects Nicky with a fatal poison–she considers Nicky too dangerous to keep around. All the same, she steals the golden artifact, and hides it safely away in the medical center.
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