Detective Brown and Inspector Baker had been investigating the case of The Canvas Bag Murderer. The same man had committed twelve murders and according to witnesses he had always been carrying a canvas bag.
The manner of each murder was intriguing. The victim hadn't been shot. Nor had he been knifed or beaten. "Something was missing" said Brown. "What?" said Baker, who was hard of hearing. "Missing" said Brown. "I said something was missing". In each case the cause of death had been poison. An odd MO as no one had seen how it had been administered.
Brown and Baker were reviewing the dockets of each victim in an attempt to tie the murders together in the hopes of leading them to the murderer. However, said Brown again "Something was missing". "Say what?" asked Baker. "Missing" cried Brown, frustrated. "I said something was missing". There was nothing to tie the murder victims together.
Frustrated, the pair took a coffee break and stepped outside for a smoke.
It was a Friday night but something was missing. Usually at this time of night, Lombard Street outside the precinct was full of the dregs of society - druggies, alcoholics, pimps and prostitutes. But something was missing, thought Brown, the street was empty and all was quiet save for a single homeless fellow shuffling along the sidewalk with a pillow case full of the man's possessions.
"Spare a quarter" said the old man. "Have you any small change?"
Inspector Baker took pity on the man and fished into his pocket.
"Please, just place it into the sack" said the vagrant.
"Wait" he thought he heard Detective Brown shout. "Something is missing."
Too late. An asp, hidden in the canvas pillow case, fatally bit the Inspector.
"I thought you said something was missing again" croaked Baker with his last breath.
"Hissing" cried Brown. "I said something was hissing."