Somehow, even though Daisy and I had seen the body with our own eyes, I did not quite believe that the crime was real until we came back home from the doctor’s office this afternoon.
Before that moment, it all just seemed like a bad dream, the very worst sort – like the one I have some times where we’re investigating a case and I realize, like a slow shiver going up the back of my neck, that the murderer is after Daisy, and there is nothing I can do about it.
But, unlike those dreams, this time I cannot wake up, no matter how hard I pinch myself. And I know that I ought to have been able to stop what happened.
Daisy says that this is nonsense. She says, wrinkling her nose, that I could not have stopped anything – and, in fact, if I had been on the spot, I might have ended up murdered too. Like much of what Daisy says, this is true, though not particularly comforting. But all the same, I cannot shake the feeling that I’ve failed.
You see, I have come back to Hong Kong. Here it is beautiful and bright, the air is warm and heavy and I am at home. No one looks at me oddly. I’m not strange, and that is a wonderful feeling, like opening up your hand and realizing that you have been clenching the muscles of it for far too long.
But, all the same, some things have changed in un comfortable ways. I have been in England for almost two years, and while I was there I learned how to be not only an English schoolgirl and a best friend but also a detective. That is what the friendship between Daisy and me is all about, after all. We are secretly detectives, and have solved five murder cases so far, and, although it is not exactly true to say that we helped the victims, we did at least find out the truth about their deaths when the police could not.
But in Hong Kong I am with my family, who remember me as the smaller, younger Hazel I was when I stepped onto the boat to go to Deepdean. It’s harder to be brave and grownup and sensible when all I’m expected to be is dutiful, a good daughter and a good older sister. It’s particularly hard to be the second, because— But I am getting ahead of myself. Daisy says to tell things in order as much as possible, and she is right. At least I have not forgotten how to lay out a case in a new notebook, the one Daisy gave me for Christmas.
All I will say before I go back to the moment when everything started – this journey, this crime – is that a terrible thing has happened, a thing that the Detective Society must investigate. And we will – but this time I am stuck in the very middle of the case. I am not just a detective, I’m a witness. And I think that I might even be a suspect.