Chapter 38.1

The setting unfolded in a manner far more gruesome and tumultuous than Yi-soo could have ever foreseen. Housed within the decrepit confines of a four-decade-old villa, it consisted of a mere two chambers—a compact living area connected to a kitchen, flanked by two sleeping quarters.

Within the living space where the horrifying incident had transpired, a gruesome tableau painted itself before her eyes. The flooring was marred by dried splotches of blood, silent testimony to the victim’s brutal demise. Shin Min-yeol, the unfortunate soul, had succumbed to a multitude of stab wounds to the abdomen, mercilessly inflicted by a keen-edged blade, resulting in a profuse outpouring of crimson life. It was little wonder, then, that the old sofa’s legs bore the mark of dried, scarlet droplets.

“A knife…” Yi-soo whispered.

The fingerprints that adorned the murder weapon were a damning testament to the involvement of the prime suspect and cohabitant, Pyo Joo-won. Yet, it was Joo-won who had been the one to stumble upon this nightmarish tableau and promptly raise the alarm.

In the eyes of the authorities, it seemed only natural for the suspect to have made the report. After all, Shin Min-yeol had allegedly severed ties with friends and had been leading a life of seclusion in recent times. With no expected visitors, it was only logical that Joo-won, a fellow resident, had been the initial discoverer of the crime scene.

Bolstered by circumstantial evidence and the presence of the suspect’s DNA on the murder weapon, law enforcement had taken Joo-won into custody. During the apprehension, he had vehemently resisted, even causing injury to one of the officers. As Yi-soo mulled over the case’s intricate details, she instinctively covered her mouth with her forearm.

Regardless of her experience as a seasoned detective within the violent crimes division, facing such grotesque scenes invariably churned her stomach. In this arena, the police were the true specialists, having meticulously gathered all pertinent information.

As she inspected the nauseating furniture, Yi-soo’s discerning gaze abruptly landed on a tightly shut door. It was her investigator’s intuition at play. Clad in nitrile gloves, she gingerly turned the doorknob, and the portal yielded to her touch.

Is this the victim’s room? she pondered silently.

The room, spanning a modest three square meters, exuded an air of meticulous organization. Its layout was simplicity itself, adorned with just a desk, a bed, and a wardrobe. A sizable window stood concealed behind thick blackout curtains.

Yi-soo’s gaze swept over the desk. An assortment of law books, meticulously aligned upon the bookshelf connected to the desk, met her discerning eye. The densely-packed volumes held a familiarity for Yi-soo.

Come to think of it, hadn’t the victim pursued a degree in law? She mused if Min-yeol had put his legal expertise to use in securing employment at Yoon & Kang.

Upon the bedside table, adjacent to the bed, a small frame rested. Within it was a photograph featuring the victim, Shin Min-yeol, alongside a majestic golden retriever. A nameplate on the frame read: “Our Autumn.” In the picture, the victim beamed with the radiant joy of the happiest person alive. Beside him, a golden retriever named Autumn appeared to join in the jubilation, sticking out its tongue in a canine grin. Yi-soo had never heard any mention of the victim owning a dog.

Returning the frame to its original position, Yi-soo proceeded to open the desk’s top drawer. Within lay a cardholder and a solitary diary, its cover simply inscribed with the words ‘My journal,’ presenting the appearance of an entirely unremarkable notebook.

Is it appropriate to peruse personal information…? Yi-soo momentarily hesitated. However, this might well hold the key to unraveling the mystery shrouding the case. She yearned for any semblance of clues regarding the connection between the victim and his roommate, Pyo Joo-won.

“Let’s find out…”

Delicately, Yi-soo unfurled the diary’s pages. In doing so, a business card slipped free and fluttered to the floor. Her brows furrowed in mild bewilderment. What could this be? With a curious impulse, she bent down to retrieve the card.

As Yi-soo casually flipped over the previously face-down card, her eyes widened in astonishment.

Chunil Daily, Social Affairs Reporter, Park Su-jeong.

“Un…ni?” she breathed, momentarily rendered speechless. The name etched on the card belonged to someone she knew more intimately than anyone else—her estranged older sister, Park Su-jeong.

“Sister… Why in the world?” Yi-soo muttered, perplexed.

How had Su-jeong’s business card found its way into the possession of the victim? The only conceivable link she could fathom was Yoon & Kang, the law firm. The name Yoon & Kang kept cropping up.

I need to maintain composure. For now… let’s read it.

Yi-soo made an effort to quell the tremors in her heart as she gingerly turned the pages of the diary. However, it became apparent that the diary had not been filled out for long, as most of its pages lay barren.

The meager content that had been inscribed was heavily obscured by the liberal application of a thick marker pen. It appeared as though someone had intentionally obliterated the pencil markings, as if harboring a desire to shield its contents from prying eyes.



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