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About the Author

Robin Porecky is of Polish origin but was born and brought up


in England. For the last twenty-five years he has worked in
Sweden as a writer and a maker of customised knives.
his is his fifth novel! following "A Pathless #and! "Fool$s
%sland$! "&ome %nto 'y Arms$! and "he (evil$s Field$. %t is
the third book in the 'agnus rygg series of Swedish crime
novels.
F I N I S H E D
(edication
For )im Adams * a great American and an even greater friend.
Ro b i n Po r e c ky
F I N I S H E D
&opyright Robin Porecky
he right of Robin Porecky to be identified as author of this work
has been asserted by him in accordance with section ++ and +, of
the &opyright! (esigns and Patents Act -.,,.
All rights reserved. /o part of this publication may be
reproduced! stored in a retrieval system! or transmitted in any
form or by any means! electronic! mechanical! photocopying!
recording! or otherwise! without the prior permission of the
publishers.
Any person who commits any unauthori0ed act in relation to this
publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims
for damages.
A &%P catalogue record for this title is available from the 1ritish
#ibrary.
Royalties from the sale of this novel go to the registered charity
he &amphill 2illage rust #td.
%S1/ .+, -,3.45 436 -
www.austinmacauley.com
First Published 768-39
Austin 'acauley Publishers #td.
6: &anada S;uare
&anary <harf
#ondon
E-3 :#1
Printed and bound in =reat 1ritain
A#S> 1? R>1%/ P>RE&@?
A PATHLESS LAND (2009)
.+,---.8:48-.:,--
%n -,.+ 'artin )anow sets out to rescue empest! a mad
evangelist! from the wilds of Swedish #apland. Ais motive is not
entirely unselfish! for 'ary <armouth has promised herself to
him if he succeeds.
1ut why is she so eager to save the priest! and is empest really
madB >n the increasingly frightening Courney homeward the
layers of truth are gradually peeled back and )anow must fight for
his own sanity and his survival.
&R%%&A# A&&#A%'
Dhe plot resembles both &onrad$s Heart of Darkness and Aenry
)ames$ The Ambassadors, but is none the worse for it. he scenes
in #apland are superbly eerieE and what )anow finds at the end of
his voyage of discovery suitably disturbing.F
AleGander #ucie-Smith! The Tablet
DA gripping! erudite and highly original Courney into the heart of
/ordic (arkness. Porecky eGplores issues of spirituality! culture
and fanaticism with the flair of a born storyteller.F
#i0 )ensen! author of "The Ninth Life of Louis Drax
Dhere are echoes of the great Australian novelist Patrick <hite$s
VossH the same epic feel and sense of inevitability. % felt plunged
into a powerful place ... and was swept along.F
Piers Plowright! Triple Prix Italia winner and adio !s
"#aturda$ re%iew &riti&
#>/=#%SE( F>R AE AIA>RS$ &#I1 1ES F%RS
/>2E# A<AR( 68-8
FOOLS ISLAND (2011)
.+,---,3.45-8+:-+
%n -+:. the young and wilful Franulka leaves her castle home for
<arsaw! where she attracts the attentions of the @ing$s son.
Eighteen months later! with her Fool and maid! she vanishes. A
closed carriage in the early morning! with an armed outrider!
suggests disgrace and eGile.
1ut nothing is as it seems. &aught up in a deadly conspiracy! only
the Fool can save her. 1ut is the price too highB
Shifting between Poland! Russia! 2enice and an Adriatic island!
this is a gripping historical mystery! a passionate love story and a
moving study of the painful growth of self-awareness.
DAere$s a novel that grabs you by the ear and eye and plunges you
into the life of -,th century PolandH court intrigues! love sacred
and profane! Cealousy! rage! adventure! comedy and danger. And
your guide is that wisest of men! a professional "fool$. he
Courney to his island is a thrilling one.F
Piers Plowri'ht, (road&aster and )riti&
DA born storyteller.F
Li* +ensen, author of "The apture
DPowerfully written! impeccably researched.F
,li*abeth )arter-+ones, e%iewer
O!E INTO !" AR!S (2012)
.+,---,3.45--44-6
'agnus rygg is a happy man. Ae loves his Swedish wife! his
two young children and his home in the sparsely populated
northern county of )Jmtland. Ae is proud of his Cob as a Cunior
policeman in the local force and! though half-hai! he has always
thought of himself as fully Swedish.
hen a young @urdish girl is found in the forest! tied to a stake
and shot. 'agnus! waiting with the body throughout the long
summer night until an %nspector is available! discovers the murder
weapon. %t suggests an honour killing! and he is ordered to bring
in the father. 1ut 'agnus knows Aashmet /a0if! likes him! and is
reluctant to believe he would harm his daughter. Insettled by the
sudden eGplosion of anti-immigrant feeling! he decides to use his
local knowledge to uncover anything that may suggest a different
truth. %t is a very dangerous decision.
Dremendous pace! a lot of tension and a thoroughly gripping
climaG.F
Piers Plowri'ht, )riti& and (road&aster
DA good and surprising read.F
(ernard .ri&hefski, Tele%ision Drama Produ&er
THE DE#ILS FIELD (201$)
.+,---,3.45--4+-.
'agnus rygg! temporarily in charge of the Aigh &oast district! is
called out to a body with a knife in its back. August Frisk! who
alerted him! insists he$s never seen the man before! and the others
living there agree. he only suspect is Paulus! a Sami reindeer
herder who flees to the <hite Sea where the Russian authorities
prove uncooperative. %nspector AmrKn suggests the case might be
suspended until he can be ;uestioned.
1ut 'agnus! eager to prove himself! carries on probing. Ae$s
sensed hidden tensions at Frisk$s and! his own marriage in crisis!
he$s powerfully drawn to August$s daughter-in-law! Aanna. 1ut
putting pressure on already vulnerable people reveals other
secrets! which have unwanted conse;uences for them all.
Set in northern Sweden! Poland and the crime-ridden Russian
enclave of @aliningrad in 6883! this is the second book in the
'agnus rygg series.
DA splendid piece of work.F
(rendan /alsh, Literar$ ,ditor "The Tablet
DA powerful tale! grippingly told. % salute the author$s energy and
skill.F
Piers Plowri'ht, )riti& and (road&aster
HAPTER 1
%t had been a busy time! but soon it would be over. Ae opened
the silver boG and stared longingly at the tablets. 1ut he knew
he must be strong and so he would not take one until after he
had killed her. hat would be at seventeen minutes past two!
which wasn$t long to wait.
he numbers! showing the precise time! had been
disclosed to him a few weeks before while selecting the
instrument of eGecution from his hammer collection. he key
factors in the choice had been modified over the years. he
enCoyment of murder itself! once so dominant an emotion! was
gradually replaced by the more practical considerations of
swiftness! efficiency and security. hese eliminated his long-
favoured weapon! the Ceweller$s hammer! on the grounds that
the slender dark horn handle might shatter on impactE and he$d
reluctantly decided the four pound file-cutter$s hammer had
such a short haft that it would bring him dangerously close to
any blood-spatter. he clockmaker$s! beautiful as it was! might
be too light to crush the skull instantly! and the farrier$s maul
was Cust too heavy for a fast strike. So! finally! the =oldenberg
-.6+ ball-peened metal worker$s hammer! with the 58
millimetre head and 6: centimetre handle! chose itselfE and
shortly afterwards! while estimating the strike-force for a swift
and certain death! he grasped! for the first time! the true
significance of the small number! 6-+! stamped deep into the
metal. Acutely sensitive by then to messages discovered in
unlikely places! he realised this was more than Cust the time of
the killing. %t was a sign that the selection of that particular
hammer was correct and it would not let him down.
Sundsvall was full of strangers because it was the annual
Street Festival. he food tents were crowded! the air pungent
with grilled sausage and frying onionE and from the drinking
tents there was the increasing boldness of voice and loud
eruptions of laughter that charted the ebb of customary /ordic
reserve. %t was very hot in the summer sun! and he found a
shaded position on the edge of the &entral S;uare! close to one
of the neo-Renaissance buildings which embraced three of its
sides. Ae wondered if any of them held a message for him! but
he$d learnt not to rush such special moments.
1ands had arrived from inside and outside Sweden! and
the throb of music reverberated from the decorated facades. Ae
moved the other chairs to nearby tables so he could sit alone!
and now he sipped his black tea! and stared unhurriedly around
him. Ae let the musical pulse act as a hammer-head! beating
his consciousness into a dreamy state where he could see
beyond what others saw! and understand meanings denied to
them. he nearby music stage! erected for the festival! blocked
part of his view! and the Costling crowds prevented him looking
straight ahead. So he raised his eyes instead! and let his ga0e
roam over the upper decoration of the nearest building! the
twining tendrils! nymphs and coats of arms embellishing the
gables! capitals and cornices. here were dates! too! all from
the years following the great fire of -,,- when this stone city
had risen from the ashes of the wooden one. Ae looked for
trade symbols! but found only Lodiacal signs which contained
nothing of importance for him.
Ae drained his cup! comparing the taste unfavourably with
the herbal tea his mother had always provided to soothe him
when he was angry or uneasy. She had taken tablets! too! and
used a hammer! though for a different purpose. She would
have approved of what he was about to do! though it was only
after her death he$d gained a fuller understanding of how it
might be done! and later still before the moment came when he
could act.
Ae was not a man whom people noticed! his life had taught
him thatE but even so he knew it wasn$t wise to sit in any place
too long. %n three minutes! he decided! he would move
elsewhere! mingling anonymously with the lively crowds. Ae
took out the town plan and glanced at it again! though the route
was fiGed securely in his mind. Someone rather like him must
have made the map! a painstaking man! attentive to detail!
checking and re-checking so nothing was left to chanceE and
whenever he studied it he saw himself in miniature! walking
along the streets set out so carefully on the paper. Earlier in the
morning he had come up from the waters of the =ulf of
1othnia which! shaded blue! formed one side of the map. %t
was so very different to the other sea he$d known! entirely
without the crunching waves and grating shingle that always
stirred in him a fearful thrill of violent action barely contained.
Ae put the map into his pocket! stood up! and as the sweep
second hand of his watch reached siGty for the third time he
walked away! breasting the crowds and taking a roundabout
route to his neGt destination. he broad boulevards and
spacious parks! laid out a century before to ape the
sophistication of a Europe further south! meant little to him.
Ais slight knowledge of architecture had not come to him
through any real interest! but from the study of the tools
re;uired to bring a building plan to life. Ae always liked what
could be held in the hand and used! and was conscious of the
hammer fitting snugly beneath the left side of his cotton
anorak. 'onths before! browsing through a Cunk-mail
catalogue! his eye had been drawn to a mobile phone shoulder
holster and he$d realised it was eGactly what he needed. %t
re;uired some adaptation! but his hands were skilled. he
retaining strap ran diagonally across his back! clipped securely
to the right side of his belt! and though it meant he couldn$t
remove his anorak in public! he would never have done that
anyway. he opening he$d made in the bottom of the holster
permitted the wooden handle to lie comfortably across his ribs!
padded by the vest he always wore beneath his shirt in case he
caught a cold. Ae made no attempt to avoid the patrolling
policemen! noticing how their stern eGpressions were relaGing
in the holiday atmosphere! and how awkwardly they grimaced
when they posed for photographs with groups of boisterously
persuasive revellers. Soon enough they would be searching for
a murderer they would never find.
Ae was constantly aware of time! watching the sun!
listening to his own internal timepiece and only infre;uently
checking his watch. &onscious it was sudden movement which
drew the eyes of others he circled round to 2JngMvan at a
steady stroll! and since his heart never seemed to ;uicken with
eGcitement the beat he walked to was that of the hammer
handle tapping against his side. Ae$d felt little hunger since the
start of this special day! and he would not break his fast with
solids until the task had been completed. he cup of tea he had
already drunk would be his only one! for he rigidly controlled
the li;uid in his body not only by restriction of his intake! but
by allowing the sun to beat down on him at times! to dry him
out and so suppress the need to urinate. Ae liked to dominate
his body! and had kept it under iron restraint since the single
occasion! so many years before! when he$d lost control of it. A
slight bree0e from the 1altic was rustling the leaves of the
remaining trees around the s;uare! and he wondered if the
others had been felled because disease had taken them or they
were Cust too old. he central fountain! cast in bron0e!
represented Art above %ndustry! rade! /avigation and
&raftsmanshipE but as most of the figures were full-breasted
women he did no more than glance at it. %t was part of his self-
control that he saw only what he wished to see! heard only
what he wanted to hear! and did! nowadays at least! only what
he wanted to do. /o one else could ac;uire the freedom this
gave him! for no others controlled themselves so much. hey
might be worldlierE but he had freed himself from the passions
that still enslaved them.
As soon as he entered this special state of liberation! he
sensed the moment had come to raise his eyes again! not to the
figures of the women on the fountain but to the only man there.
Ae was a stalwart bearded figure! full of the pride so very
proper to a craftsman. Ais hand was resting possessively upon
some obCect in his belt! and after the most rigid scrutiny there
was no doubt it was a hammer. %t was another message and he
knew that nothing now could stop him.
Ae set off west along the main street! not looking at the
plan of Sundsvall! but seeing it clearly in his mind. As always
his shoulders were slightly hunched! his head was lowered! and
he never met the eyes of others. Ae was not interested in other
people! and did not want them to be interested in him.
Reaching the roundabout he turned left! crossed the dual
carriageway! climbed the granite slab steps and stood before
=ustav Adolf$s church0 %t dominated the town! and its
darkened copper spire and golden weathercock would be his
marker if he ever felt uncertain of his way. 1ut it was so much
more than that. %t was the starting point of a line only apparent
on the map! stretching from the church! running through the
police station! and ending at his destination. 1ut to him it was
not a line at all! it was an arrow of retribution travelling from
the all-seeing eye of =od! from whom no sin is ever hidden!
over the heads of the hapless investigators who would never
understand the appropriateness of what he was about to do! to
the target area where she awaited him! though unaware that he
was coming.
Ae chose to walk clockwise around the church! cool in the
tree-shade! and at the west end he was welcomed by the
trumpeting musicians of the sculptured heavenly choir. From
there it was only a short distance to the tiny tree-fringed lake!
the &rown &ourt at its end softened by a rocky fountain. his
time he circled anti-clockwise! feeling how right he$d been as
he passed along the back of the police head;uarters! and
shortly afterwards he was at his final destination. Steps
stretched down to basement level! and as he stared at the notice
marked "#>PP%S$ and the eGtended finger of a red-painted
hand pointing downwards! he was suddenly enveloped in the
heady perfume of a white-flowered shrub hanging over the
neighbouring wooden fence.
Ae began his descent! thinking of other flea markets he$d
seen in garages! garden sheds and even spare rooms! selling
surplus family clothes! toys and household items. he smaller
ones were probably summer-only! but others seemed to have
developed into little businesses! often speciali0ing in furniture!
bric-a-brac and Cewellery. >n his tentative morning reconnoitre
he$d gained the impression that this one was a well-organi0ed
concern! spread over the ample basement space once used as a
laundry room and storage area. Few people were about now at
this dead time of the day! so very hot and after lunch! when
those with any energy to spare would be enCoying the Festival0
/o one within his view was heading in this direction! and it
was unlikely there would be any customers inside. #ooking
neither to right nor left! so diffident he scarcely seemed to eGist
at all! he descended the last steps. here he turned onto the
metal ramp! which went down to the lowest level behind the
house and passed unhesitatingly through the open door. Aad
she been careful of herself! he wondered! or would his
sensitive nostrils at once detect the scent of ageing and the
little personal neglects which were its conse;uenceB
he first room was full of second-hand beds and sofas. Ae
stopped! pretending to study them! but actually looking for any
cameras or mirrors. Finding none! he strained his ears to listen!
and was reassured when he heard nothing. Ae retraced his
footsteps! put on his gloves! turned the "open$ sign to "closed$
and ;uietly shut the door. reading softly! he turned at right
angles into the second! smaller! room and found himself in the
company of a stack of old wooden skis with their bamboo and
leather ski-sticks! some hand-carved chairs! two pine tables
and several wooden chests with crudely painted and doubtless
spurious dates. urning right between them! he was able to see
into the third! and largest! room. %t was rectangular in shape!
roughly divided into separate sections! each filled with items
likely to be of interest to collectors.
Automatically his eyes settled on the far wall where there
were racks of old tools. Among them was a hammer! and he
realised a final blessing had been bestowed. Ae took the
=oldenberg from its holster! gave the ball-peen a farewell
caress and then held it ready beneath his anorak. here was the
sudden movement of a brightly patterned summer skirt! and
then she was coming towards him! giving him the professional
smile of welcome to a customer.
HAPTER 2
%nger Fransson returned from holiday refreshed and full of
vigour! convinced her tan took ten years off her age and eager
to get back to work in her loppis. %t was true Spain had done
nothing to remove the bulges at her waist! which probably
protruded a little moreE but in every other way the two-week
break had been a success! more so than she$d ever dreamed
possible. %t was the first time she had seen her cousin 2iveca
for twenty years! and before that they$d only met infre;uently
at family occasions. <hen they were children it was different!
and they$d played together happily enough! but after they both
got married their lifestyles became so different they drifted
apart. 1ut if marriage separated them! widowhood brought
them together again. wo years ago %nger had lost her >ve to a
stroke! and 2iveca$s 'aG died of liver failure two months
later. Formal regrets were eGpressed! but nothing more until!
the previous year in the routine eGchange of &hristmas cards!
each suggested it might be nice to meet again.
2iveca! and it was typical of her! made it clear she would
never come back to Sweden! and any meeting would have to
be in Spain. <ith the certainty of someone who only
remembered the Sweden of the fifties! she declared it to be too
cold! too tight-arsed and too #utheran! adding! for good
measure! that any country still re;uiring its citi0ens to buy their
alcohol from the state monopoly shop knew what it could do
with its democracy. his forced %nger to consider the &osta del
Sol! a place >ve had always designated as the chosen
destination of Swedish lager louts and therefore eGcluded from
their annual discussions of holiday venues. 1ut now she
suddenly decided it was! of all places! the one she most wanted
to visit. %n a sudden flowering of rebellion! late in life! she
yearned for sunshine! la0iness! the intoGicating flavour of
forbidden fruit. Aer new venture! the loppis! which had so
frightened her at first! was up and running and even ;uite
successful! so she had money entirely earned by her! and she
wanted to blow it on one big bit of fun. Ama0ed by her own
temerity! and waiting only until she had properly celebrated
her birthday with her granddaughter Annette! she defied the
shade of >ve and arranged to Coin 2iveca in Spain however
many drunken Swedes were there.
orroG had no lager louts. %t was a pretty white and flower-
filled village perched in the hills set back from the crowded
coast. 1ut it was not an easy startE for both of them were on
their guard! ready to defend their different styles of life. %nger
showed her disapproval of her cousin$s smoking and wine-
indulgence! and pointedly suggested she might cover more of
her body in public places! and wear the top half of her bikini
when they were sunbathing. 2iveca countered that she felt
ashamed to be seen with someone who had let herself go to
such an eGtent! and hinted she should buy some less drab
clothes and colour her hair. hey$d glared at each other! and it
was a moment when stay or go was in the balance. 1ut %nger!
her initial anger fading! suddenly realised that although
infuriated by her! she actually liked her cousin very much! and
the same thought must have occurred to 2iveca. hey burst out
laughing! and hugged and kissed! and the pattern of their
relationship was set. %nger$s hair changed from grey to a light
ash blonde! with highlights! and her clothes became a riot of
casual colour. As for 2iveca! she stayed eGactly as she was.
hey talked and talked! dredging up memories of the early
years! and gossiping happily! and sometimes scandalously!
about their few remaining mutual ac;uaintances. <ith an
honesty that %nger found refreshing! they compared the ways in
which age was beginning to affect their bodies. She learnt that
2iveca! for thirty years! had suffered from sudden and
crippling migraines! but after the menopause they never re-
appeared. She! in her turn! was able to confess to the sudden
rages which had afflicted her! and which had soured forever
her relationship with her only child! Sylvie. hese! too! they
decided! must have been hormonal! for she did not have them
now. From there! especially when the sun and wine were low!
both spoke with frankness about their marriages! and %nger
learnt at last to laugh at what had been! back then! eGtremely
hurtful or infuriating. And once! at dusk! on the small balcony
overlooking the steep slope down to the farm below! when
both had fallen silent! she began to speak about her daughter$s
sudden fatal heart attack! and the anger she had felt! because it
deprived her forever of the possibility of a longed-for
reconciliation. he anger had been followed by guilt! which
she tried to alleviate by devoting her time to Sylvie$s ten-year-
old daughter! Annette. 1ut she became so busy with her that
she failed to absorb the fact that >ve never properly recovered
from Sylvie$s deathE and then she blamed herself for her lack
of care and concern! which might have contributed to his
stroke. She$d never spoken about these things before. 1ut now!
with 2iveca! she found she couldE and 2iveca did her best to
reassure her! insisting she$d done all that could be eGpected of
her in such very difficult circumstances.
A routine was established. hey got up early to swim
before the crowds arrived! ate breakfast out! and then went
shopping or eGploring. 2iveca liked spending money! and
%nger who! pressured by >ve! had always been eGtremely
careful! now learned to spend it too! on trifles! huge sun hats
and silly sandals. hey drank coffee in the s;uare in Frigiliana!
in front of the church! admiring the lead-decorated doors
displaying trees with pairs of pigeons in them. 2iveca nudged
her! and told her the waiter had Cust looked admiringly at her
legs. %nger found she was giggling! which she was certain she
hadn$t done since she was seventeen. he waiter! who had his
eye still on them from afar! was young enough to be her son!
but that increased the compliment. hey decided there and
then to abandon the rest of their walk and let their coffee-break
run into lunch. 2iveca told her the waiter$s name was )uliNn!
and beckoned him over! ordering tomato salad and the local
cheese. Ae was very attentive! glancing at her out of the corner
of his eye while he spoke volubly to 2iveca.
DAe can$t have been talking Cust about the food!F %nger
said teasingly when he had gone. D% bet he was admiring some
part of you as well.F
2iveca laughed. DSome years ago he admired every part of
me very effectively! in bed! a sort of siesta with a difference.F
She stretched luGuriously at the memory! and added! D%t only
happened once! and we$ve been good friends ever since.
here$s no sense of sin here! not about casual things like that.
hey happen! and they$re fun! and then they$re over! but the
appreciation remains.F
>nce! %nger would probably have been appalled. /ow she
merely beamed! and raised her glass and said! D=ood for you.F
2iveca winked! and said it had been good for her! and for him
too.
D?ou ought to move here!F she added as they dawdled
their way home. Dhere$s a place two streets away from me
that$ll be coming on the market neGt year! and once you$re
settled here you$d really start living.F She put her hand on
%nger$s arm and said! with a surprising timidity! as if she was
unused to asking something for herself! D%$d like it if you
came! it gets lonely sometimes.F
>ften 2iveca drove her up the switchback road! which
climbed to the mountains. Aer driving was no more cautious
than the rest of her life! and several times %nger gasped as the
little Fiat lurched towards the sheer drop to the fields of
nispera below. >nce! on a blind bend! meeting a lorry coming
down! they were forced out to the very edge! and even 2iveca!
until then apparently immune to fear! frowned! and swore. 1ut
at the top! picnicking beneath a walnut tree! drinking the cool
wine from the car$s electric chiller and looking across to the
snow-capped mountains of the distant Sierra /evada! %nger
relaGed again! giving herself up to the pleasure of forgetting
her life in Sweden and immersing herself in the enchantment
of each day. <hen 2iveca fell asleep! sprawled comfortably in
the tree$s shade! %nger rose and walked towards a massive
fortress-like rock beside the track. Scrambling a little way up
it! she was able to look down across the parched red earth! the
silver sheen of the olive trees! the raw strength of the rock
escarpments! to the glittering sea below. She knew she would
never move here permanently! her Swedish roots were too
strong to be pulled up! and her innate caution warned her it
would be a lot less magical if she became ill! or if anything
happened to 2iveca. 1ut she would make fre;uent visits! and
Cust the thought of that inCected a new eGcitement into her life.
A huge swallowtail butterfly alighted on a shrub beside her
and stayed there! sunning its brilliant blue striped wings. %t
seemed unperturbed by her presence! and she filled her mind
with its beauty. %t was like an affirmation that she would
return.
She eGpected to be tired after her flight back and the long
drive north from Arlanda! but found she was more eager now
for life than she had been for years. 1efore she$d opened the
loppis! conscious that the house was far too big for one woman
now living on her own! she$d had it converted into two
apartments! letting one but keeping the lower flat for herself
and with it all the basement rooms. 1ut she$d held onto her
custom! on returning from any trip! of giving everywhere a
thorough clean. /ow she looked at the little flat! reminded
herself she$d cleaned it all before she went on holiday and!
pretending she was still in Spain! went out onto the balcony
instead and la0ed there for a while. here was no veGation!
either! at the lack of any post re;uiring her serious attention.
%nstead she savoured the pleasure of a new freedom from
responsibility. Even when she went shopping! to stock up
again! she carried her fresh attitude with her. She bought with
an eGtravagance she$d never allowed herself before and dared
to enter the state Systembolaget for the first time in her life to
purchase wine and vodka. She talked on the phone to Annette!
listening to the eGcitement in her voice as she spoke about a
new boyfriendE and not worrying! as she would have done
before! that this time too she$d probably chosen unwisely.
%nstead she sipped her drink and told her she was so happy for
her. >n an impulse! which previously she would have
controlled but now allowed free rein! she said she$d book a
table for the two of them neGt evening at an absurdly
eGpensive restaurant and there she heard and enCoyed all the
details of her granddaughter$s new romance.
She re-opened the loppis on 'onday! hoping to attract
some of the crowd attending the start of the Festival0 %t was
cool in the cellar rooms! and she suspected the number of
customers was swollen by many who came in simply to escape
the unusual heat. he neGt day the heat continued! and one
lady! who had seemed uninterested in anything but wiping
away her perspiration and taking deep gulps of the fresher air!
suddenly spotted the eleven old fountain pens and bought them
all! a record sale. 1y the afternoon the cellar had warmed! and
customers were fewerE and by the <ednesday the pattern
seemed to be repeating itself. he morning was busy! and she
sold some costume Cewellery! several pieces of china and a
sofa. hen an English tourist! who spoke some Swedish and
claimed to be a knife-maker! showed an interest in siG old
sheath knives she kept locked in the glass cabinet on the
counter where she took the money. Ae asked if she could
reduce the prices she$d put on them! claiming he only wanted
them for their blades and would make his own hilts and
sheaths for them. She smiled sympathetically but shook her
head! sensing his eagernessE and when he paid up cheerfully
enough she guessed he$d probably spotted something special
that she$d missed and so got a bargain anyway. 1ut she didn$t
mind at all. She was no eGpert on knives and was relieved to
sell all of them at once and see the back of them.
1y twelve the supply of customers seemed to have dried
up in the heat. She took a leisurely lunch break! going out to
collect money from the bank! but when she opened again no
one arrived! and by one forty-five she was tempted to close up
and return to the balcony where! a bottle of wine beside her!
she would be able to dream she was back in Spain. 1ut her
financial caution had begun to re-establish itself! and though
she could imagine 2iveca laughing at her! and teasing her
about her /ordic thrift! she resisted the temptation. A little
later she felt vindicated! for she heard footsteps in the neGt-
door room! and went to see if another record sale was going to
come her way.
HAPTER $
#ennart Aavendal saw Amanda hesitate! her eyes sweeping
around the ground floor of the police station in case another
inspector was within call. Ae pretended not to notice! Cust as he
pretended not to hear the comments fre;uently made about
him. o reach the side door into the car park he had to pass her
reception desk! and as he did so he smiled his usual polite
smile and said he was off home now. %t was eGactly siG
o$clock! another day had passed! and he was praying fervently
she would not stop him! was not going to attempt to pass on to
him the information which had Cust reached her through the
headset still held in her hand. /ervously he straightened his
already impeccable silk tie! checked that the Cacket of his suit
was buttoned! and without hurrying his pace at all! he passed
her.
D%nspector!F she said ;uietly to the back of his head!
DSvedlund$s Cust reported in. Ae$s found the body of a woman
in the loppis round the corner from here. Ae asked me to alert
homicide.F
#ennart stiffened. Ae should have pretended not to hear!
gone on to the safety of his car! knowing there would be no
attempt to run after him. /o one wanted him to lead a case
again! any more than he wanted to do itE and Amanda had left
him that escape! using homicide as a general term! with no
personal implication. 1ut the mention of the loppis had made
him pause. Ae$d been there a month before! looking for an
early nineteenth century Emil >lsson acid-etched desk set! and
although he didn$t find one the owner produced a pair of
scissors decorated by the same maker. Ae liked them! liked
her! and so bought them! promising to come back at intervals
in case she ac;uired any other pieces of the Eskiltuna
metalwork he collected. And now! having paused! he felt
compelled to turn to face Amanda. She was middle-aged! as he
was! a patient woman! tidy and efficient.
D<hat was Svedlund doing thereBF he asked! putting off
the moment.
DA neighbour rang in at five fifty one! worried the lights
were still on though the loppis was closed. #ars! % mean
Svedlund! was the nearest patrolman! and he went to
investigate.F
D%s it the owner who$s deadBF
DAe didn$t say! he probably doesn$t know. Ae$ll leave all
that to homicide.F
She was looking at him sympathetically! as all the nicer
ones at the station did. She had worked there for fifteen years!
knew his reputation as a loser! but remembered he had not
always been like that. %f she had urged him! he might still have
hesitated. 1ut in the face of her awkward understanding he
said! D%$ll go!F went out through the main entrance! turned
right! then again! and climbed the slope towards the s;uad car
parked beneath the tree.
Svedlund! young! cocksure and openly ambitious! was
using his initiative and taping off the area. As soon as he saw
the inspector he walked across to him! and #ennart was sure he
was schooling his face so it would not show the
disappointment all seemed to feel when he was involved in a
case. Ais last! the underpass rape! had been a particular
disaster. hey had all known who committed it! but #ennart$s
lack of attention to detail allowed the rapist to walk away.
Incertain of himself! uncertain even if he should remain a
policeman! he$d left too much to others in the team! not
properly supervising them. Ae felt they despised him! knew
they resented any interference! and took the coward$s way out
by staying at a distance. Semen samples were muddled up and
there was mislabelling. #ennart! refusing to blame anybody
else and cowed by the resulting fury of @Cellberg! the
Prosecutor! did not fight hard enough against his abrupt
decision not to bring a prosecution.
1She$s in there!F said Svedlund! Cerking his thumb at the
entrance to the loppis. DAead bashed in! you won$t find it a
pleasant sight. 1ut the murder weapon$s beside the body and if
the killer$s fingerprints are on it you$ll be on your way.F
#ennart nodded. hough he knew he$d never been
outstanding at his Cob! he had for twenty-siG years been
thorough and effective! and before his decline in the last two
years no patrolman would have dared to treat him like a
simpleton. 1ut he no longer had the confidence and energy
re;uired for a rebuke! and he was busy steeling himself for the
sight of his first female corpse since he had looked down at his
wife$s.
DAave forensics been alertedBF he asked! needing
Sanfridsson to be with him.
D%$m Cust a patrolman!F replied Svedlund! shrugging his
shoulders. D% told Amanda to get an ambulance and the police
doctor! but if you$re in charge % think you have to be the one to
organise anything else.F Ae paused as #ennart took out his
mobile! then asked! D<ould you like me to take a statement
from the neighbour who raised the alarmBF
Ae indicated a white haired upright man waiting patiently
outside the tape! holding himself aloof from other residents
and curious passers-by who were beginning to assemble.
Dhat would be a great help!F said #ennart gratefully.
DAnd get some back-up if you feel it$s needed out here. %f
anyone ;uestions it! say you have my authority.F
Ae was like an old machine coughing and spluttering into
life! and he was not surprised when Svedlund thanked him
with more than a touch of irony in his tone. Ae rang
Sanfridsson and was at once calmed by his brisk professional
manner. o his relief! while he was talking to him! the
ambulance and doctor arrived! so he would not have to go in
by himself.
D<hatever you do! don$t let them contaminate the crime
scene! and that goes for you too!F fussed Sanfridsson when he
told him. Dread carefully! don$t touch anything! and get them
out of there as soon as they$ve done what$s necessary. <e$ll
be with you as soon as we can.F
he body of the woman lay sprawled on the floor! oddly
relaGed as though she was at rest. Ae saw at once it was the
owner! though she seemed younger than he had remembered.
he doctor confirmed that she was dead! and that as far as he
could see the cause of death had been a hammer blow to the
temple. o #ennart$s relief the attack had not been fren0ied!
and though the blood! and perhaps other matter! had seeped
into a pool around her head! the visible part of the face and
skull was unmarked. As Svedlund had said! the weapon! a
hammer! lay beside the head! with blood and hair adhering to
it. 1ut as he looked down at her he did not feel the usual
numbness when he could not think beyond Aarriet$s death.
his time he felt a wave of sadness! sure she had not deserved
so brutal a death.
Something was faintly stirring in him! and he felt at last it
might be possible for him to act with some decisiveness!
though he doubted whether he would be able to sustain it for
very long. >nce Sanfridsson and his team arrived! and there
was the bustle of white-shrouded figures! the glare of lights!
the clatter as the e;uipment was set up! he would probably be
tempted to slip into the background again. hough in age and
eGperience he was senior to the other inspectors! he$d avoided
taking charge of cases whenever he couldE and in this he had
been aided and abetted by AmrKn! the recently appointed
Sundsvall chief of police. Ae was a younger man who had
leapfrogged over several others to take the post #ennart had
once seen as his by right. %nitially he suspected the apparent
kindness was merely a devious way of easing him out of his
Cob! or at least preparing him for a sideways move to
administrationE but gradually the patience and understanding
he showed persuaded #ennart to lower his guard a little.
Dhings like this take time!F AmrKn said gently! the
piercing eyes for once relaGed. D?ou have no children! so %
would guess Aarriet was an especially important part of your
life.F
DShe was my life!F #ennart eGclaimed! his voice breaking
as he became emotional again. D<e$d been married for
twenty-four years and % loved her Cust as much as on our
wedding day.F Ae paused! and then corrected himself. D/o!
that$s not true. % loved her more! much more. She was the
reason % wanted to do well! to get promotion! to end up where
you$re sitting now. % was never a natural! % knew that! but %
wanted her to be proud of me.F
D%$m sure she was!F AmrKn said automatically.
#ennart thought about this! feeling calmer now that he was
talking! and wanting to believe that AmrKn$s sympathy was
genuine. Ae nodded slowly. DShe said she was!F he admitted!
Dand she never lied Cust to please me. 1ut it should have been
me the car hit! not her.F
wo years ago! in 6885! they$d been walking
companionably towards &las >hlson$s! where they were going
to buy a new vacuum cleaner! when a car mounted the
pavement and hurtled straight at them. %nstinctively he pushed
Aarriet towards the safety of the store entrance and Cumped at
the car! waving his arms and yelling in an attempt to force it
back onto the road. 1ut the driver was slumped over the wheel!
seeing nothing! and the car! out of control! slewed away from
him towards Aarriet. Ae threw himself onto it! as if he could
turn it by brute force! but the wing caught him and hurled him
into the road. Ae must have blacked out! for he could not
remember hearing the impact as the car hit the shop. 1ut what
he did hear! and had heard inside his head ever since! was
Aarriet$s shrill scream as she was crushed! and then her
gasping repetition of his name as she called to him for help. Ae
dragged himself up! his head swimming! blood dripping
unnoticed from his torn leg! and staggered desperately towards
her! calling her name in his turn and saying he was coming.
1ut by the time he reached her she was only groaning! and
didn$t know himE and shortly afterwards she died. Aaunted by
the knowledge he$d unwittingly pushed her into the path of the
car! and the fear she hadn$t known he$d responded to her cries
and come to comfort her! he$d never been the same again.
D% can$t stop thinking about it!F he said to AmrKn.
D<hatever else % ought to be concentrating on! that always gets
in the way. %t$s like a sort of haunting. %"m no longer in control
of my mind! and that$s why %$m so useless.F
D?ou should have taken more time off. % know it was
offered to you.F
Do be alone with my thoughtsBF #ennart ;ueried
desperately. DAnything was better than that! even seeing the
scorn in people$s eyes as % lost my grip.F
D=ive it time!F AmrKn repeated. D?ou$re an eGperienced
officer! and you$ll never lose the knowledge that eGperience
has taught you. ake life easily! don$t force the pace! and one
day you$ll be ready again.F
1ut he$d remained dead inside! and as he grew a slightly
thicker skin! and told himself he no longer cared what people
thought of him! he became increasingly detached! aloof! using
his height! the smartness of his clothes and his fine enunciation
to keep others at a distance. <hen he$d Coined the police in
-.++ he$d tried to hide his privileged background! his
comparative wealth! his lineage. %n the seventeenth century!
when Sweden had been a victor in the hirty ?ears <ar! Field
'arshal &ount @arl von Aavendal had been a leading
representative of the new young power beginning its days of
greatnessE and though #ennart$s great-grandparents! falling on
harder times! had sold their manor in Ippland! moved north
and abandoned their title! they had retained a consciousness of
their standing. he neGt generation felt so settled there they
showed their pride less obviously! and this tendency towards
e;uality was continued by his parents. 1ut there were still
limits! and they were appalled by his decision to drop the %on
from his name! horrified at his determination to Coin the police!
and perpleGed by his declared intention to make society a safer
and a fairer place for ordinary people. hey went to their
deaths saddened by his failure to have children and perpetuate
their lineE and #ennart! feeling so inferior now! felt shamed by
his sudden need to assume his parents$ aura of superiority.
Ae dared not walk about too much in the loppis nor even
undertake the most obvious task of checking the cash to
discover whether robbery was! as he was sure it would be! the
motive for her death. Ae wished he$d asked Svedlund her
name! for knowing what she was called might have made
peering down at her body a little less intrusive. She had
obviously kept herself fit! and the tan suggested she$d recently
returned from a holiday well to the south of Sweden. %t seemed
no time at all since he$d talked to her here! and he$d formed
the impression then that she was kind! which was important to
him! for he was frightened of Cudgemental people. Ae began to
wonder about her! whether she had a family! what the upstairs
rooms would look like! what they might reveal about her! and
why it had been necessary to hammer her to death when it was
unlikely she could have put up much resistance to a thief.
here was no sign of a struggle! nothing out of place! and the
overall orderliness of the whole area now caught his attention.
Something flickered in him! a spark! something important. For
the first time since Aarriet$s death he felt some curiosity. Ae
walked towards the entrance! feeling he needed air! not daring
to think too much about the vague conCecture forming in his
mind. %t had happened to him in the past! and he$d learnt to
leave such ha0y sensations to themselves. 1ut the ;uickened
pulse of inner eGcitement kept him conscious of the germ of an
idea almost within his grasp.
Ae walked out into the warm evening! taking great gulps
of air to calm himself! and bumped into Svedlund walking the
other way! looking down to put his notebook in his pocket with
one hand! and not even bothering to hide the cigarette in his
other.
DAow did the interview goBF #ennart asked awkwardly!
fearing his deep breaths might be misconstrued! and not daring
to draw his attention to the breach of smoking rules.
DRather more pleasant than your contemplation of the
body seems to have been!F replied Svedlund pointedly! looking
him straight in the face as though they were of e;ual rank. %t
was something #ennart had noticed about him. Ae wasn$t in
awe of anybody! and seemed to think himself as good as
AmrKn himself. %t didn$t come across as arrogance! though
there may have been a touch of that! but more an immense and
natural self-confidence! which #ennart envied but knew was
utterly beyond him. Ae did not pretend to understand the
young! was rather alarmed by them! but he wondered if
perhaps! in some odd way! they had the proper idea. hey had
not been over-disciplined at school or in the home! and
discovered at an early age that they had rights. %t had given
them this infuriating assurance! especially in their relations
with what he had always thought of as his elders and betters.
?et! and this he found particularly odd! they seemed
inade;uate when it came to relations with the opposite seG
within their own age group. hey could be friends with them!
or casual lovers! but a permanent relationship! as marriage
once had been! often seemed beyond them.
Dhe victim$s name was Fransson! 'rs %nger Fransson!F
Svedlund went on! taking out his notebook again and slipping
down the elastic band in case he needed to open it to refresh
his memory. DShe$d Cust returned from Spain! she was a widow
in her siGties! living alone! and the witness thinks her neGt of
kin is her granddaughter Annette! a student at the university.F
D>h =od! %$ll have to go and see her shortly and break the
news!F #ennart said distractedly! looking at his watch. D% hate
that! %$m so bad at it. %$ll try to take the police pastor with me
to say the right things.F Ae thought Svedlund looked sceptical!
and assumed that! like most of the young! he was not a
believer. D<ho$s the witnessBF
DAenrik Skalin! lived in the flat above her. Seems sensible
enough! noticed the lights were on even though it said "closed$.
ried the door! but it was locked! and then saw the key lying
on the ground.F
#ennart had not noticed the key! and hoped he hadn$t
trodden on it. D(amned careless of the killer! leaving the
weapon and the key he must have touched!F he commented
conversationally.
D>r damned clever!F replied Svedlund. D<ears gloves and
doesn$t take anything away with him that could link him to the
crime. Ouick thinking if it$s Cust some druggie after the takings
from the till.F
#ennart looked at him! surprised by his shrewdness. D(id %
hear you were looking for a transfer to homicideBF
Svedlund nodded.
D%$ll keep it in mind if we need eGtra help. %t$s a nasty
business! it$ll scare loppis owners everywhere.F
DAre you going to lead the investigationBF Svedlund asked!
and he did not attempt to hide the surprise in his voice.
#ennart shrugged. Dhat$ll be up to the &hief!F he
prevaricated. 1ut he$d been Colted! for the moment the ;uestion
was asked he knew he did want this case.
D%f you do get it! Cust remember we lowly patrolmen don$t
have to be as proper as you inspectors!F Svedlund commented.
DA lot of us were on your side over that underpass case! felt
you$d been shat on from a great height by the Prosecutor. %f
you$d given us the nod there were several of us who$d have
sorted out that rapist. /othing fancy! mind! but he wouldn$t
have done it again.F
#ennart$s sense of outrage was diminished by his pleasure
that there had been unknown support for him. D%f only it was
so easy!F he said! and did not have to add anything else
because above them a 2olvo pulled up! followed by a white
van. Forensics had arrived! and the real investigation could
begin.

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