Chapter 1

I looked down at the sheet-covered form and swallowed hard, grateful that my daughter Alice wasn’t with me. She wouldn’t have known what it was she was seeing, of course, but a seven-month-old baby has no business being around a dead body.

Even with the sheet concealing the worst, there was so much blood, and the smell… I swallowed again and looked away.

My great-aunt was staring at the body, too, and I’d never seen her look her so pale.

“Aunt Maggie?” I said, and gently touched her back.

She looked at me, but I don’t think she really saw me. Her eyes were still filled with that awful vision of death. Tears were streaming down her face, and she looked so much older than she’d looked that morning.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” she said in a disbelieving voice. “Bill said the house was safe. I wouldn’t have gone to the carnival if I hadn’t thought he’d be safe.”

There was nothing I could say to her—I’d thought the Walters mansion was safe, too. When Big Bill Walters told me that somebody was trying to kill him, I’d been sure I could outwit whoever it was. Instead, I’d been the one outwitted. Maybe if I hadn’t been so full of myself, we wouldn’t have been standing next to a dead body.