The Coldfall Sanction
Commissioner of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office
To many Avram Câmpineanu is considered to be one of the most eligible bachelor’s in Bucharest, but those young ladies with whom he has upon occasion spent some time find him to be rather cold and aloof. Violeta Petrescu, with whom he has had a five-year, on-and-off, relationship has told him more than once he is a ruthless monomaniac.
The rhythmic beat of the water mill blades abruptly came to a halt.
The miller, Ion Topor, for a second was uncertain, having grown so accustomed to the sound of the blades. And so the silence was suddenly deafening. He quickly tossed his cigarette toward the bank of the Dâmboviţei as he climbed up to get a better view of the silent wheel. What he expected to find was a log or a stump, which occasionally floated lazily in the river, to have found its way into the rotation of the wheel. Lodged between the blades. Only he was startled to see what appeared to be the nude body of a young woman. Hurriedly he cried out as he scrambled down from his perch and raced around the mill, where he and several workers waded into the river to see if they could save the unfortunate young swimmer. But when Ion reached her, she was dead. Only not by the blades. For she had not been swimming. Her body bore several wounds. A quick examination of the body found at least twelve deep, stab wounds, and her throat had been cut. Rather than a tragic mishap, this was murder. The Major of Budești a small provincial town, approximately 30 km south-east of Bucharest, sent for the Jandarmeria Rurală, only when the captain arrived to examine the body he felt this horrendous crime was beyond the capabilities of the Rural Gendarmerie and so he quickly telegraphed the Bucharest Prefecture of Police.
Avram Câmpineanu, an officer of the Poliției Române, was sent to investigate. A graduate from the Faculty of Law at the University of Bucharest, Câmpineanu had no real interest in arguing mundane cases. Instead he favored the puzzle of the criminal mind and the thrill of investigation. Especially having read Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes in the copies of The Strand magazine at the university library. And so, upon graduation he took up a position in Prefecture of Police, owing to the Interior Minister Vasile Lascăr’s expressed desire to make the Poliției Române into a modern, scientific police force based upon the techniques established by law enforcement in France, Germany, Belgium, and Austria.
Since the girl was identified as not having been from Budești, he took the body back to the morgue in Bucharest, where an autopsy found similarities to another victim. A young woman found half nude in the Danube, her throat slashed, and stabbed twelve times. Yes, the game was most definitely a foot. For Avram Câmpineanu had a maniac, perhaps as mad as London’s Saucy Jack, walking the street of ‘Little Paris.’ In all four more victims would be murdered before he found his man, a very respectable tobacconist.
The ‘ River Maiden Murders ’ not only made Avram Câmpineanu a name in Bucharest, but provided him a position as a Commissioner of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office, specializing in murder.