Anatomy of Evil

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Book: Read Anatomy of Evil for Free Online
Authors: Will Thomas
Tags: Historical, Traditional, Detective and Mystery Fiction
profession. On their way out, if you know what I mean.” He sat back in his chair. “Before you accept, I must warn you, there is a cost. Before I came to ask you, I had to get Commissioner Warren’s permission to bring you in as special agents. I’m afraid he had conditions.”
    My employer tented his fingers. Personally, I think he was enjoying himself. “Which are?”
    “That you temporarily close the doors of your agency and take down your hoardings. If you work for Scotland Yard, you cannot work private cases as well. Also, all deductions you make in this case become the property of the Metropolitan Police. Warren doesn’t want to pick up the Pall Mall Gazette and read ‘Cyrus Barker Apprehends Suspect.’ Do you understand?”
    “Of course. I assume I may still keep my chambers as a base of operations? Or am I to be given an old, battered desk within the CID?”
    Anderson gave a dry chuckle. “I’m not certain one can be found. We are at full capacity, I’m afraid. Will you agree to these terms?”
    Barker considered them for a moment. “Will I be given full access to the files? The lad and I don’t have time to repeat someone else’s work.”
    “The files are currently spread out all over London, but I’ll write an order demanding that they be returned to ‘A’ Division.”
    “Is there a chief suspect as yet?”
    “A few fellows have been arrested, but there is little to hold them on. Each inspector has his own theory, but there is no consensus. Whitechapel is like a bad haircut. We’ve combed it backward and forward and still can’t do anything with it. It has begun affecting our duties in the West End. If our constables are patrolling Flower and Dean Street in pairs, who is watching the jewelry stores in Kensington? This fellow must be apprehended quickly.”
    “Even if it means bringing in ‘amateurs’?”
    Anderson crossed his arms and tried to suppress a smile. “True, Commissioner Warren dislikes private detectives.”
    “Private enquiry agents,” I corrected.
    “You see?” he said, poking a thumb in my direction. “Now you’ve got him doing it.”
    “It sounds to me,” Barker said, “that you’ll be well out of there and Thomas and I shall be taking the blame for your appointment.”
    “I don’t claim this is going to be all beer and skittles, but I believe your shoulders are wide enough to carry a few remarks at my expense.”
    “What rank am I to hold?”
    “I’ve been considering this since this morning. You will be given a rank equal to inspector. However, you are to liaise with the Queen’s secretary at Buckingham Palace. Her Majesty is very interested in the case. I thought you might make use of that royal connection to anyone short of a detective inspector.”
    “Any handle will do to turn a pot,” Barker remarked. “Are you well, Robert?”
    Anderson grimaced. “I had pains in my arm last week,” he said. “My doctor told me I am ripe for apoplexy. He enlisted my wife’s aid.”
    “A formidable woman.”
    “I can argue with one of them, but not both. It is deucedly inconvenient, and will not do my career any good, but I have no choice. I need you there, Cyrus. Scotland Yard has some good officers: Abberline, Swanson, and the others are all fine investigators, but as I told Warren, for my money you’re the best man hunter in London. You’ll crawl down a hole after a wounded badger, if need be.”
    Barker said nothing but gave a nod at the compliment.
    “And you, Thomas,” Anderson said, turning to me. “This will be harder for you. Most men will not dare confront Cyrus openly, but they will have no problem confronting you. You’ll be in for some ribbing.”
    “I’m paid handsomely, sir,” I said. “And I don’t really give a damn what they say or think about me.”
    “That’s the spirit,” Anderson said, regarding me with his blue-green eyes like aquamarine stones. He ran a hand over the top of his head. Out of vanity, his own or his

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