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PROLOGUE.  In Which the Peace and Tranquility of Manhattan Are Disturbed by an Unusual Meteorological Phenomenon.

Helvetica Carlyle, née Fahrtstaller, had never gotten a cab that quickly in her entire life, and Helvetica Carlyle, it has to be said, was an extremely demanding woman.

Was being the operative word.

At thirty-two feet per second, it took only about 3.8 seconds for her body to plunge from the seventeenth floor of her Park Avenue co-op down onto—or more precisely, through—the roof of the taxi that had just pulled up to the awning outside the building. The cab driver, one of three Bangladeshi brothers who shared a single studio apartment, a single driver’s license, and a single counterfeit green card, panicked and clawed his way out of the car, leaving the passengers, a well-dressed elderly couple, sitting face-to-face with the corpse. They exchanged a long look before the wife finally sighed, leaned forward, bent back what remained of one of Helvetica’s ears and peered behind it.

“Oh, that lying little such and such,” she said. “She did have work done.”