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The squad car coasted to a stop in front of the ancient brownstone front. A crowd of curious onlookers hung on the steps, trying to peer in the door, or stood in knots on the sidewalk outside, buzzing excitedly.

Inspector Klee of Homicide paused with his hand on the door handle and scowled at rookie detective Dan Layton. "I didn't ask for a beginner and I'm not happy to have you," he growled at the flushed young man. "But I'm stuck with you, it seems. Just bear in mind, you're here to watch and listen and learn. Don't try to play detective and keep out of my way. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir," Dan Layton said miserably. "I understand."

Murder Most Foul #1 panel 2

He climbed out and followed the big, gruff, red-faced Homicide Inspector through the crowd. There was a lump of misery in Dan's throat and a knot growing rebellion in his breast. Klee was known throughout the police force as the toughest detective in the Bureau. Why, of all people, did they assign rookie Dan Layton to get his first homicide experience under a man who hated rookies and went out of his way to voice that dislike.

They went down the hall to a dingy door marked: SAM SLYE, PERSONAL LOANS. Rafferty, a uniformed patrolman, let them into the shabby office. A big, hard-faced man with a broken nose and cauliflower ears sat in a chair at one side, cracking his knuckles in gloomy reverie. The body of "Slimey" Slye, Loan Shark, lay beside the desk and near it lay the heavy brass ash tray that had crushed his skull. A single file drawer stood open in the row of filing cabinets along the wall and the floor beneath it was littered with papers. Kinney, another patrolman, stood guard over the file and the body.

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As the two men entered, a fox terrier dog sprang up from beside the big man's chair, snarling and raging. The big man caught the dog's collar and held it back. "Trix was his dog," he explained. "He don't like strangers, anyhow. Be quiet, now, Trix."

Soothed by his voice, the dog subsided, growling ominously and watching the police with red, hating eyes. Kinney saluted Inspector Klee. "This is Slugger Hensle, Slye's collector," he explained. "Slugger came in, found the body like this and yelled out the window to Rafferty. It musta just happened because the body was still warm when we got in here, sir."

Standing carefully out of the way, Dan let his eyes roam over the office. He knew something of Slimey Slye's reputation as a loan shark who let out money at exorbitant interest and then sent muscle men like Slugger Hensel to beat up and intimidate those who refused to pay his illegal interest. A nasty setup, Dan thought. Any of a hundred badgered, frightened clients could have done the murder.

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Neural Network Novellas series cover
Murder Most Foul #1 episode cover
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Neural Network Novellas

AI generated art using text prompts are a new, controversial means of creating visual art. The cowboy and the shepherd have working dogs to assist them. The spaceman relies on his blaster and android assistant to complete his mission. The writer can now use an AI artist to create art for his written creations. Join us as we explore this new creative process by taking classic prose stories, feeding them to our supportive silicon sketcher, and share the results with you.
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