1. Every single surface of the room is sticky and coated with a fine, white powder.

2. You’ve shouted, “Don’t touch that! Bag that up right now! Bag! It! Up!” at least a dozen times in the past forty-five minutes.

3. Sure, there’s a book that tells you how this is supposed to go and how you’re supposed to handle things. But you’ve never been a by-the-book kind of person. You’re driven purely by instinct and caffeine, and it’s always worked out fine.

4. Your mood and attitude are completely at odds with the loud, cheerful music that serves as the soundtrack for your activities.

5. The partners assigned to you are always wet behind the ears and constantly asking questions.

6. You think you may be too old for this shit.

7. Your methods would be roundly criticized by any fire marshal with half a brain in his head, but it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.

8. The whole place is covered in fingerprints.

9. You’ve shouted, “Did you wash your hands? DID YOU? Wash! Your! Hands!” at least a dozen times in the past forty-five minutes.

10. At some point, you’re going to have to call in a grizzled, grumpy old-timer who’ll tell you what to do next and all the ways they did it better.

11. You’ve shed a few tears while you work. It’s not like you’re made of stone. If you don’t let this stuff get into your nooks and crannies once in a while, it’ll turn you into a monster.

12. People keep moving stuff before you can take photos.

13. Somehow, you have to mold these raw and disconnected elements into a cohesive whole — something you can tuck into a neat and tidy box and tie up with a bow. Something the outside world will accept, even if they don’t entirely understand.

14. That may be chocolate, or it may be blood, but either way, it’s going to be your job to clean it up.

15. You don’t expect any thanks for what you do.

16. No one’s getting through this day without a tummy ache.

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Baking cookies with children: 1-16
Starring in a gritty crime procedural: 1-16