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The four-story brownstone at 141 East 37th Street in Manhattan has no remarkable features: a plain building on a quiet tree-lined street in the shadow of the Empire State Building. In the summer of 1920, Herbert O. Yardley, a government codebreaker, moved in with a gang of math geniuses and began deciphering intercepted Japanese diplomatic telegrams. This was the Black Chamber, America's first civilian code-breaking agency.

It’s a may evining in 1990, and I am eleven years old, heading to gymnastics class at the high school across the street from my home in Scarborough, a suburb east of Toronto. I’m tall for my age but a slight thing, in a tie-dyed T-shirt and jean cut-offs, white-blond hair clipped back in pink barrettes. I’m a late bloomer, eagerly waiting for my body to develop into something else. Something wanted.

The first thing cops noticed was the footprints. They began near the entrance to the expensive oceanfront townhouse: size-12 sneaker outlines, stamped in blood.They wound up a flight of stairs to the second floor, across smooth white marble tiles, and around rich leather furniture. They led through the kitchen and past a bloody butcher knife hastily hidden under a throw rug. As police traced the prints to their source, the marks grew bloodier — like a grisly puzzle slowly revealing itself.

I moved to Haiti in the spring of 2007, when my wife found a job with the United Nations' peacekeeping mission there, established after the fall of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. She was assigned to Jérémie, a small town on Haiti's southwest coast.

Pio xii, Brazil — It was midafternoon that Sunday when Otávio Jordão da Silva Cantanhede left on his bike to play pickup soccer. His father said he did not see him tuck a knife into his shorts or slide a blade into his backpack.

The warden wouldn’t allow Michelle Kosilek to buy cosmetics, so she made them in her cell. For liquid foundation, she blended pulverized chalk—pink, yellow, and white—with Eucerin lotion. For lipstick, she melted Chapstick in the metal top of a gallon jug, then added red ink, and, as an emulsifier, Vaseline.

No one knows how many migrants have died trying to cross the desert into the United States. The US Border Patrol reports more than 5,500 deaths since 1998. Immigrant rights groups, like the Tucson-based Coalición de Derechos Humanos, estimate that the remains of at least 6,000 people have been recovered. 

In the 1990s, Los Angeles held the dubious title of “bank robbery capital of the world.” At its height, the city’s bank crime rate hit the incredible frequency of one bank robbed every forty-five minutes of every working day.

Lauren is alone in the dark. She’s naked, sitting cross-legged in her own filth, eyes focused on a sliver of light.It’s all she has, that light.It glows from underneath a locked closet door, and Lauren’s discovered if she stares at it long enough, her mind will open a portal to another place.

The man with platinum-blond hair blew onto Bourbon Street this summer, talking fast and pushing business cards on anyone who would take them. He wore diamond earrings and gold chains, said he intended to buy a $2 million house and pitched a reality TV show called “Bourbon Street.

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