As soon as I cleared Eva out of my office, I sat down with the envelope Plain Jane gave me. Like her, there was nothing very flashy about it: plain, white, letter-sized. No monogram or Fitz Roy company symbol. There was no name written across the front. He took great pains to make sure the letter could never be traced to its sender. If he was the guy that wrote it.
I opened it with my index finger after digging my nail into the corner. We weren't the type of operation to have anything as fancy as letter opener.
The pages folded inside matched the envelope. They were plain, white, and neatly typed with inch and a half margins. Such a waste of space. There was no handwriting and no return address. It simply started with: "T.F.," Anyone could have written it. Plain Jane Dillwood herself could have sat down at a typewriter three hours ago and pounded this thing out to keep me busy while she skipped town and boarded the next steamer across the pond.
But I gave it a shot.
If you are reading this letter, I presume that I am dead. I wrote this in that event and asked Miss Dillwood to perform a series of tasks to prevent what could be a major catastrophe. The first was to deliver a key to you in secret. The key, I am hoping is in your possession and should be kept as safe as possible. I will not describe what it does for fear that this letter may be intercepted. Instead I will tell you when and where to meet someone who can educate you on exactly how to use it.
The following I will write so that you know I am the true author of this letter and not some impostor leading you astray. Three days ago I called you to my office after normal business hours with the intention of hiring you to find, what I called, a "valuable collectible." I told you that the stolen item was a quadrant used by surveyors and this particular one was from the early 19th century and used by the legendary surveyor, Simon De Witt. None of this seemed to phase you and why should it? To you I was just a wealthy man looking for an expensive toy. This case was nothing more than a petty theft. And that's exactly what I wanted you to think. I had to try and keep the theft as quiet as possible for fear that my enemies, and they are many, would get wind of it disappearance and act quickly.
Now I will tell you that inside that quadrant ruler is some of the most valuable information about this city. Information that could be used to be its undoing. I know this must sound all very silly to you, but I assure it isn't. Again, I will leave the specifics to the only other person who knows the secret of the piece.
Just this morning it has come to my attention that darker forces are afoot. Forces that know exactly how important my collectible is. My life is in danger. You should have been hired by my son already to find my murderer. Don't worry you will complete both tasks in one stroke for I am convinced whoever stole the quadrant is also responsible for my murder.
Now there are two people who I suggest you seek out to help you on this case:
The first is a man who will be expecting you in his office in the speakeasy you have been to twice already on my behalf. You will have an appointment with him exactly 24 hours after my murder. He will be receiving a letter as well telling him to expect you. You can trust him completely, he has been my confidant and partner in this venture and he will tell you all you need to know.
He has working for him a young girl whose name I gave you. She is the second. I know you have already sought her out and found her to be of no help, but seek her out again. She is an invaluable ally, also someone my partner trusts. She has no knowledge of what is going on but you will need her skills to help you.
You came highly recommended by Lyle Linder. He said you were the best in your field and a dark horse of the industry. No doubt news of my death will inspire him to contact you. I trust his opinion and I'm sure he will tell you just how important my work was to this city. Now it has become your work.
If somewhere on the other side of things, we meet again, I hope you can report back that you were successful.
All my best and all my hopes,
I closed the letter and lit a cigarette. The whole letter smacked of him and so I was slowly convinced it was the real deal. If only I know what the hell he was talking about.