"You should have seen the manic glint in his eyes when he showed up on the crime scene," Brett Partridge all but gloated. "He craves to see the face on the wall, I tell you."

"I'm still not sure that confirming the names on his list has been a good idea," Reede Smith objected for what felt the umpteenth time.

"Actually I'm not sure whether your affiliation to our society has been a good idea either," Raymond Haffner retorted wryly. However, a warning glance from Bret Stiles was enough for him to snap his mouth shut.

"Patience, gentlemen," their host murmured suavely, and Gale Bertram nodded his head in agreement. They weren't going to go anywhere if they started arguing; he was enough of a politician to know that.

Bob Kirkland contented himself with staying silent and mysterious, while Sheriff Thomas McAllister pulled at his moustache and watched each of his companions in turn.

The game was on.