I reserved a car at Arkham Municipal Airport to take me up to Dunwich, but as it turned out, I didn't need the reservation. My new job, as Chief of Dunwich's police, was waiting for me right at my gate, in the person of Federal Agent Gamaliel Harrow, and Agent Harrow drove me up to Dunwich himself. It seemed that a PhD student from Miskatonic University had disappeared, and one of the conditions of my employment as chief of Dunwich's police was that I investigate all crimes related to the supernatural and extraterrestrial on my own.
"I don't suppose you've had much help from the acting police chief," I told Harrow.
"No," he replied. "And neither did I expect any. If they could have convinced one of the police officers to take on jobs of this sort, they wouldn't have hired you. No offense."
"If you say so," I said. "I wondered why they didn't promote someone from within the department."
Harrow looked up at me. "It's a hell of a job you've taken, Sam, and I hope that you have not taken it blind."
"I've done research," I said.
He snorted. "Do you know how many murders there were in Dunwich last year?"
"Eight," I said. Like I said, I had done research.
"And how many suicides?"
"Not sure," I said. I hadn't done that much research.
"Forty-seven," he replied. "In a town of eight thousand. Twenty times the state average for murders, and forty times the average for suicides."
"There were also a dozen times as many convictions for amphetamine use than the state average," I said. "Push the meth dealers out, the murders'll go down."
"You have the stick by the wrong end," said Harrow. "The Miskatonic valley is where the marks of inhuman civilizations are most deeply etched. When faced with the nameless horrors of forgotten worlds, people will defend their sanity as best they can. Hence the meth."
I shrugged. "If you say so," I said.
"It's not just me who says so," said Harrow. "That's what the rest of the police force believe, and that's why this is your case."
"Seems fair," I said. I had done my research, and I knew how many people with my job had killed themselves. It didn't really matter. Dunwich might not be a pleasant place, but North Philly was worse; I'd rather deal with nameless horrors than raid another crackhouse, or play catch and release with dead-eyed teenage hookers. "So who's this missing kid?"
"Trent Whitlow was a PhD candidate at Miskatonic University; he had spent the last four summers excavating a Native American site just north of Dunwich that may have been a center of the Nyarlathotep cult. He disappeared two weeks ago, at the start of this year's excavation season."
"And that's enough to make it my problem."
"More than enough."
"Fine," I said. "What's the FBI's interest?"
"Trent Whitlow had a five million dollar life insurance policy."
I gave a low whistle. "Now that's interesting."