My job is to poke through ruins and find fault. And maybe save the insurance company in Hartford some money if possible by smoking out an arsonist or two. Arsonists came in all kinds, men mostly, but a few women who want pay back for a marriage gone wrong, or a bad business deal. Money is behind the crime, insurance money.

A hot summer rain splattered the windshield. I estimated I would make it back to New Madison in two hours, if the weather kept the vacationers at bay. The Camry's wipers smeared the dirty windshield before I hit the washer nob. I liked the Camry but I missed the Crown Vic I had for some years. It was big, imposing, fast and looked like a cop car. It was also very comfortable. The tranny went and it made no money sense to fix it when for a little more money I could get a used Camry. We all get used to things.

The Camry was suited up with BlueTooth and I carried a laptop and what I called my computer phone. It did everything but make lunch.

I was hungry, too, but not in the mood to pull off the highway to eat. I often feel that way after seeing a fatal fire.

The rain eased, and the wipers cleared the window when the phone rang. It was Elinor in Boston, the claims vice president, and a nice person. She put up with me, so she had to be a nice person. I work New England for her as an independent contractor, working about thirty hours a week for food and board, the latter being my double decker down in New Madison, the old sailing town on the water, where I moved after, well, after...

"Got the report," Elinor said. "Sad, the little girl."

"No, not sad, tragic," I mumbled. "To use a cliche, a fire trap."

"No fire alarms?" she asked.

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