You never could say no to a dame.

You knew she was trouble the second she sashayed through your door. She was one of those society types with long bottle-blonde hair, Mikimoto pearls draped over her prominent collarbone and gams that went from her hips all the way to the floor. One look and you knew she was bad news.

You had to wonder how a broad like this found herself in the dingy south side office of an even dingier gumshoe, but by the time she finished her story you knew why she came to you and not the real cops. Real cops. You gave a snort at the thought. Yeah, you were a flatfoot once. Damn good one too. You were top of your class at the academy and were the youngest to make detective in fifty years. You never wanted anything else. For as long as you could remember, being on the side of justice and putting the bad guys behind bars was what you knew you were put on this earth to do.

They say your first big public case defines your career. Yours was a boat anchor. Society woman went missing. You had it pegged as a murder from the start and you liked the husband, Langford, for it—maybe a little too much. Your drive to build the case against him had you stepping on more than a few well-connected toes and ultimately, lacking a body, you succeeded in little more than harassing the mayor’s biggest fundraiser and finding yourself on the business end of a slander lawsuit. You didn’t understand. You were just doing your job. Just seeking justice. You were young. This was before you found out that Lady Justice is just another whore who works the fundraiser circuit in nice neighborhoods. It was before you knew that making the wrong enemies leads to losing your badge.

After your suspension you hit the bottle hard. You got sloppy, reckless. You never could let that case go and your captain chewed your ass at least once a week, warning you to let it drop. Good guy, the captain—he didn’t want to see you sink your career because of this albatross. Though if you’re honest he was probably equally motivated by his desire to not get his own ass chewed by the mayor anymore. Either way, once your old pal Jack Daniels convinced you that the Fourth Amendment didn’t apply to you it was all over. You were arrested in Langford’s master bedroom, caught red-handed trying to crack his safe. The bastard was on-hand when you turned in your shield. He had the balls to smile at you.

Yeah. You were a good cop once. Now you were just a private dick making barely enough scratch tailing cheating spouses and dirty business partners to keep yourself in hooch and the occasional female companion. Once in a while you pulled out that old file and tried to work the evidence again, hoping to find something you missed, but there was never a new angle.

Until now.

Sitting on the other side of the desk, aiming those creamy white stems right at you, was the new Mrs. Langford. She had started seeing him a few months after you last saw him in your captain’s office, but by then the official story was that the original Mrs. Langford had just up and run away and the murder accusations, if you were the type to believe what you read in the paper, were just the reckless accusations of a drunk cop trying to make a name for himself. She was a gorgeous social climber from a modest family and he was rich and connected with a taste for blondes. It was a match made in heaven. But now she was scared for her life. She said she’d discovered the truth recently about the original Mrs. Langford. She said she knew where the body was. She came to you because the cops wouldn’t touch the case with a 99-and-a-half foot pole.

You would have taken this case without a second thought even if she hadn’t come in batting her miles-long eyelashes at you. You opened your desk drawer. You always kept two Magnums in there. One was for protection, but you reached for the gun instead. After everything she told you about Langford’s violent side you figured it might be a good idea to pack a little heat.

The two of you drove to Langford’s estate where she led you into a thicket at the far end of the grounds. You set to work with the shovel you took from the tool shed and by dusk you had unearthed the remains of a woman. Forensics would have to sort it out but the jewelry, tattered designer clothes and entry wound in the forehead were all you needed to move on the house and make an arrest. You called your last remaining friend on the force and told him to send backup; you’d fill him in on the details when he got there.

In your excitement you didn’t notice that the second Mrs. Langford had disappeared. You didn’t have to wait long to find out where, as a loud scream echoed across the lawn. You rushed into the house, gun drawn, and found her pinned against the wall, one of Langford’s hands wrapped around her slender porcelain neck. You yelled for him to stop and he spun on you, gun in his other hand. Without hesitation you put two in his chest and he collapsed in a heap on the marble floor.

Mrs. Langford ran over to you and embraced you, kissing you violently. You were so flush with adrenaline that it took several seconds to register the sting. You looked down in time to see her pulling a letter opener out of your gut. You fell to one knee, too confused to strike back. The blood rushed from the wound like rats off a sinking ship and you bled out before the cops got there.

They found her huddled on top of her dead husband, crying her eyes out. With you unable to contradict her story the official record reflected that you burst into their house in a rage and murdered her husband in cold blood. She stabbed you in self-defense as you were about to rape her. As for the body in the thicket, well, she kept that to herself. If the forensics squad got a hold of it they’d no doubt discover the DNA evidence of a struggle between the women, and the resulting conviction would put a real crimp in the lifestyle to which the newly widowed, newly wealthy Mrs. Langford had become accustomed.