Kirov covered his nose and mouth with a fine handkerchief. “You see, Inspector? A crime of unparalleled brutality.”

Sokolov’s stomach was not so easily turned, and he began making notes. “Brutality?” he said. “A curious word, Supervisor Kirov. What makes you say that?”

“Look at him!” Kirov cried. “Those deep wounds, almost like they were caused by an axe, and the other cuts and bruises…”

“Very symmetrical, aren’t they?” Sokolov said, nonchalantly. “See how the blows on one side are mirrored by those on the other? Curious about the bruises, as well. You don’t normally see them forming patterns like these, sharp-edged patterns.”

“I’m afraid I don’t take your point, Inspector.”

“This is far too calculated to have been a crime or brutal passion, Supervisor,” the inspector said. “These wounds were carefully inflicted immediately pre- or post-mortem, before the body was moved to the place you found it.”

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