In Leonard Collucci’s thirty years as a police detective, he had never solved a mystery. “That’s what detectives in pulp novels do,” he’d tell people curious about the job. “In real life, we walk into tragedies and pick up the pieces. A corpse, a gun, a kid next door with a drug habit. No need for Sherlock Holmes.” Even when cases went unsolved, Leonard usually knew what happened. He just couldn’t prove it. Sure, those cases pissed you off, but they didn’t keep you up nights putting the pieces together in different combinations.
So, Leonard wasn’t watching Tales to Tell Used Books because he missed stakeouts. He was here because the one genuine mystery he ever came up against was in that bookshop across the street. Steam floated off the mug of chai the barista had talked him into trying. It smelled how the park near his new apartment looked in autumn. He took a sip and watched people come and go through the bookshop’s red door.
Leonard wondered which one might be the next victim. Six disappearances, three officially reported, three more suspected. The oldest was Sue DiPippa, fifty-five, the youngest a twelve-year-old boy named Jimmy Brock. The one thing these victims had in common was they all spent a good bit of time at Tales to Tell right before they went missing.
The door of the shop jerked opened and a woman, fiftyish, her hair pulled back in a bun, stepped out. She stopped, still holding the door open. “It’s no way to run a business, that’s all.”