Without A Trace

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A Flash Fiction Short Story by Carrie Marsh

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Word Count: 1390

Without A Trace



Alex responded at once. “Julian.”

Watson inclined his head, and Alex blinked, surprised that he had missed that. “Quite.”

The two stood in silence for a while, as the private finished photographing the footprints.

“Well,” Watson sighed, “we have two possibilities. We just have to wait and see what Gilbert says about it. He could probably run some algorithm of his, figure out how big the guy had to be to sink into mud that far…” he smiled wryly at Alex, and Alex sighed.

Gilbert Levi was their pathologist, who – this being a small town with limited resources – also headed up their expert witnesses and drafted in various experts. The man was fussy, careful and had a love of the theatrical – and Watson and Alex both found him somewhat difficult. But still – if anyone could help them distinguish between the footprints of two men, it was Gilbert.

The two men went back to the station, their work done, chafing their fingertips which had numbed in the evening’s cold.

An hour after the photographs were dispatched to him, Alex heard Gilbert walking down the corridor. In a station of eight full time officers, it ought to have been difficult to distinguish one man walking in a hallway from another. But it was clearly Gilbert. The dry cough and the almost-silence of the steps gave him away. As did the meticulous knock at Watson’s door.

“Inspector Watson?”  The voice was clipped, elegant, educated. Alex smiled.

“Yeah?” he heard Watson reply. “You got something for me?”

“I believe so.”

“Hang on,” Watson said perfunctorily. “Alex?” he bellowed down to Alex, two doors up the hallway.

“Yes, sir?” Alex grinned, as he appeared in the doorway.

“You’re fast,” he said, impressed. “Now, Gilbert here has something for us.”


“I have the photographs, here,” Gilbert said, producing the pictures of the footprints with a flourish. “And here,” he added dramatically, reaching into another folder, “I have the data we were able to deduce from their size, depth and degree of setting of the mud.” He produced a sheet of paper with three columns and two or three rows of words and numbers.

“A big heavy guy or a thin and tall one?” Watson asked, guessing the results.

Gilbert looked at him meaningfully. “If you wish to put it roughly, then yes,” he sniffed dryly. “The suspect could range between five foot eleven and somewhat broad, to six foot two and somewhat less in build. He is wearing Nike trainers, as far as we can tell, and he would have been there about twenty-four hours before murder, give or take about six in each direction.” Gilbert finished succinctly.

Alex and Watson stared at each other.

“Well,” Watson chuckled dryly. “Not much help, eh?” he looked at Alex wryly, and Alex nodded slowly.

“No, sir,” he agreed thoughtfully.

“The husband of Ms. Jones was around six foot, and built like a footballer. Julian, now, he’s about six foot four, and quite sparse. So that doesn’t help us decide at all. Twenty-four hours ago, now…” he looked at Alex.

“That helps, sir,” he agreed. “Or at least, it could.”

“Now all we need to do,” Watson sighed, “is find out where Ms. Jones’ husband was yesterday evening.”

Because they already knew where there other suspect had been. Right there at the hotel, in the room opposite Rebecca Jones’.

Alex and Watson shared a glance. Gilbert looked between the two, dark eyes clearly trying to interpret the message.

“I think,” Watson said quietly, “you should pay our Victorian hotel a visit. Someone up there is in severe need of being interviewed.”

Alex nodded. “I agree.”

“And I’ll get on the phone to Chicago,” Watson agreed tiredly. He was grey with exhaustion and Alex frowned, concerned. “Someone needs to take that guy in.”

Alex nodded, and walked briskly up the passage to his office.

They had one more clue. They just had to work out what it told them.


Author Notes

I came up with this little tale on a little discovery that Inspector Watson and Sergeant Ford found out who may be the murderer to Ms Rebecca Jones. It’s more than meets the eye. If you enjoy this story… please tell your friends. It would be better to get the book, ‘THE CASE OF THE HATED BODY” to find out if they are able to solve this murder mystery together.

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