Murdock Odcum was never late. Privately, behind his back, he was known as the “swiss watch” by the Suffingham shopkeeps he shook down for protection money. He’d let each shopkeeper know the day and time he’d arrive at their first meeting, and never deviate from the schedule.

There was no negotiation

There were no extensions.

Only death could induce a postponement.

So, naturally, when the shopkeeps on Cosington noticed that Murdock missed all his stops that day, they assumed that someone important had died. Such was Murdock’s reputation that many delivered their protection to other agents of the Suffingham outfit anyway, begging them to tell Odcum that they had paid in full.

The shopkeeps didn’t know how right they had been until Murdock’s body was fished out of the estuary the next day. Even then, hid gold pocketwatch was still ticking.