It was a damp, dreary day in the great city of London. A kind of day that encouraged most folks to stay indoors, away from the melancholy cloud that seemed to hang over the city. But for Inspector James, this was a perfect day for committing crimes; or in his case, solving them.
Inside the colder-than-usual Bow Street office, Inspector James was hunched over his desk; the tip of his nose almost touching a stack of papers. He was nose-deep in the city's most recent case: The Mystery of the Jade Dragon, an expensive artifact that had been stolen from the city museum a few nights ago. The theft had been slick, clean, and oddly, without any witnesses.
"Strange," mused Inspector James, "No noise, no alarms, and no broken locks. It's as if the Jade Dragon got up and walked away on its own."
His subordinate, an overly-enthusiastic young man named Martin, offered, "Perhaps it's magic, sir?"
James snorted, "Magic, in my city? Not on my watch, Martin." He was a man of logic. In his experience, magic only existed in children's books and in the heads of optimistic fools. However, he had to admit, this case did carry an air of the supernatural about it.
Over the next few days, James dug deeper into the case. The museum's security cameras gave him nothing; on the night of the crime, they mysteriously stopped working. The Staff? All alibied by each other and by their homes' cameras. As for fingerprints, the thief was professional enough to have left none behind.
"It's like chasing a ghost," Martin sighed, clearly frustrated.
"No," James said, determined, "Not a ghost, a worthy adversary." He smiled as he often did when a case started becoming interesting. James, you see, liked his villains smart, and this thief was very smart indeed.
The next few days went in a whirlwind of investigative work. He tracked down every clue, every whisper, every possible lead but, nothing concrete surfaced. The case was colder than the icy streets of London.
The theft of the Jade Dragon, as it seemed, had stirred quite the media frenzy. The public wanted a resolution and they wanted it quick. The mayor wanted answers, the museum director was breathing down his neck and the public pressure was palpable.
Just when things were beginning to look hopeless, a breakthrough came in the most unexpected form: a beggar named Old Charlie. Apparently, he had seen someone lurking around the museum's premises on the night of the crime. A "shadow of a man", as he described him to James. This was the break he had been waiting for.
"Martin," he barked the moment he was back in the office, "We're not hunting a ghost, we're hunting a shadow."
And so began, the real chase. Inspector James followed Charlie’s information, retracing the shadow's steps. He was led down alleyways, through tunnels, and in parts of London so obscure, they were almost mythical.
His pursuit brought him face-to-face with the Jade Dragon thief in an old warehouse. The man was just like his crimes; neat, clean, and profoundly ordinary. He could've been anyone but tonight, he was in James' spotlight. As the Inspector arrested him, he couldn't help but feel a sense of respect for the man's craftsmanship and skill. That, however, didn't stop him from hauling the thief off to the cells.
The city celebrated James and life soon returned to normal. The thrill of the chase was over; the plotting, the clues, the satisfaction of solving a case, all were behind him. The only thing that was left was the mundane paperwork.
"Quite a case, eh sir?" Martin asked, smiling at his superior.
James nodded in agreement, a hint of a smile playing on his lips. "Quite a case, indeed."
In a grand city like London, crime was plenty and there were several mysteries waiting to be solved. The Jade Dragon was returned to its rightful place, the thief was behind bars, but the legend of Inspector James...oh, it was just beginning.