In Provence, St-Cyr and Kohler investigate an old-fashioned murder.
The train ride from Paris is supposed to take four hours, but a Resistance bomb has snarled the tracks, and detectives Jean-Louis St-Cyr and Hermann Kohler are fourteen hours behind schedule. By the time they arrive in Provence, they are travel-weary but intrigued. Even in wartime, it's rare to investigate a murder by crossbow.
The woman was in her early fifties, with well-made clothing and opal earrings that indicate that, until war came, she was wealthy. The crossbow bolt was barbed, and as she tried to pull it out, it shredded her heart. St-Cyr and Kohler quickly learn why the villagers are loath to cooperate: The woman was a smuggler, killed to protect the black market that the inhabitants of this frigid, war-wracked countryside cannot survive without.