I. Very early in the morning of December 24th, village constable Archibald Primrose found a red-and-grey-clad old man in a huge snowdrift right outside Longburied Parsley.
Dead? Primrose pulled off one of his woolen gloves and prodded and probed cautiously, fearing a local alky would jump up and accuse him of harassment. Well, one could not be as cold and stiff as this old geezer and be alive, could one? Primrose looked around him, wondering what to do. Thieves, rogues and drunkards could be put in detention overnight to calm them down and keep them off the streets, but an ice-cold, thickset corpse? No one had quite prepared him for a situation like this. And right now, with Christmas looming up and all his superiors gallivanting in Copenhagen to guard top politicians and arrest hotheaded demonstrators during the climate conference. [Who said this story was British? I didn´t, did I? A global village, perhaps, to make all my readers (un)comfortable.]
First of all, Primrose put his glove back on as it was really disagreeably cold. He looked around him again, but everybody else in the little village seemed to be sound asleep. Second, he pulled his mobile phone out of his pocket and took a few photos of the crime scene. That was what the CSI guys always did.
What next? Fingerprints? Primrose had never heard of anyone lifting fingerprints off cold and wet snow, so maybe this was his chance of fame and a medal (promotion had been phased out years ago). Looking around him, he could not see any signs of fingerprints. Yet there were several traces of hoofs. Again, Primrose secured the evidence as best he could. Not horses, surely, more like roe or deer. Wasn´t that a bit odd, really? Well, not the missing fingerprints, as anybody would wear gloves or mittens tonight, like the old guy in the heap of snow, but odd that he could not see any footprints apart from his own? Ill at ease he looked around him, certain that now he would have to take himself into custody.
“But I can´t even remember the caution,” he muttered.