In January, they found the girl's body.
They found it in Pine Crest. Pine Crest is a small town about 90 miles from Denver, in the Rocky Mountains. In the past, it was famous for silver and gold. But now it's a place where people go on vacation; they ski there in the winter and walk in the mountains in the summer. Movie stars have homes there. It's beautiful and it's quiet when the snow falls. And the snow falls a lot in the winter. Pine Crest isn't usually the kind of place you find a dead body. Denver's the place for that, not Pine Crest.
Oh, of course sometimes there are skiing accidents, like in all ski resorts. I remember that a young man died about three years ago. He was skiing too fast and he went into a tree. It's sad, but it happens. But murder - killing someone - well, that's different.
So that January morning my boss, Leo Cohn, Chief of the Denver Police, called me into his office.
'Girl's body in Pine Crest, Flick,' said Leo. Leo was thin and worked too much. He never sat down. Now, he was standing near his desk. 'They found her yesterday.'
'Oh?' I said.
'It looks like someone killed her,' he said. I didn't say anything. 'Murder,' he said, as if I didn't understand. I waited. He didn't look at me. Then he said, 'I want you to go to Pine Crest.'
'Ha!' I said. 'So that's what you want. But Leo, why me? It's too soon. It was just two months ago... I can't!'
'Flick, you're the best,' he said, 'and you need to get out of Denver... it's the best thing.'
'Listen, Leo...' I started, but I stopped. Leo looked me in the eyes.
'Come on, Flick. Bill Gershon, the Chief of Police there, is an old friend of mine. He's not happy. If it's murder, it's bad for business. No-one wants to ski when there's a killer about.'
Well, yeah, I thought, as I looked out of Leo's window at the city, a dead body was bad for business. I knew Pine Crest. I used to go skiing there on the weekends. The town made its money from the thousands of visitors who went there every year. The restaurants, cafes, hotels, ski school, all made money from the people who went to beautiful Pine Crest for their vacation.