“Well, putrefaction had pretty well set in by the time we were able to run our tests,” Schoenberg said, “but we were able to identify the substance found on the victim’s hands and under her fingernails.”

“Excellent,” said Maier, putting aside her paperwork. “Let’s hear it.”

“It’s chrysophanic acid, also known as rumicen and a host of other lay names,” Schoenberg said, laying a folder with the results on Maier’s desk. “It’s a yellow crystalline substance extracted from rhubarb, yellow dock, sienna, and other related plants.”

“So we cross-check our victim with known rhubarb farmers?” Maier said. “Somehow I doubt that’s going to get us anywhere.”

“It’s used in the treatment of skin diseases, mostly by herbal nuts. You tend to see it used to treat psoriasis, eczema, and the like by people who are allergic to the standard treatments or–more often–granola-shitting hippies.”

“That’s awfully square of you, Detective,” Maier laughed. “Weren’t you born during the Summer of Love?”

“Yeah, to a military family. My family never wondered why the national guard opened up on the flower power set; we wondered why they stopped.”