When a house alarm goes off in Värmdö, an island in Stockholm’s archipelago, a security guard shows up expecting a break-in. But what he finds is far from ordinary: an unidentifiable body, brutally slaughtered. Complicating matters is the wounded young man he finds near the crime scene—a man who police will count as their prime suspect.
Emelie Jansson, a newly-minted lawyer at a top firm, takes on the young man’s case. By her side is Teddy, an ex-con trying to stay on the right side of the law as he works as the firm’s fixer. But Teddy has his own problems to worry about—namely his wayward nephew, who’s on the verge of following in his uncle’s criminal footsteps.
Who is the murder victim, and who is the murderer? And why do all roads seem to lead to Mats Emanuelsson, a man Teddy once kidnapped? As Emilie investigates, Teddy must confront his past and save his nephew from a troubled fate. Soon, all three get caught in a high-stakes game that threatens to undo their lives.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Tony Catalhöyük didn’t love his job. His real dream was to be a policeman. But he’d failed to get into the training course twice. He had perfect vision and hearing, and he’d passed the physical tests with ease. He didn’t have any of the inadmissible health problems, either, and his grades were good enough.
It was the psychological tests where it had all gone wrong. They’d said that he didn’t see himself as a part of the wider group. That he tested as a lone wolf. When he called the recruitment people, they just parroted more of the same story. She repeated the same words as the report, over and over again.
The sky had started to lighten, but the forest around him was still dark. He was driving quite a bit above the speed limit, but his bosses normally encouraged that, at least during night shifts. Not that they would ever officially admit it. “We can’t just take our time out there,” they said. “We should either be at the monitoring center or with our customers, where we can put ourselves to some use. People appreciate us getting to them quickly, even if we are just caretakers in uniform.”
Tony hated that: caretakers in uniform. He was no caretaker. He was there to fight the bad guys, just like the police officer he planned on becoming someday.
The alarm had come in about fifteen minutes earlier, from a house in the woods on Värmdö island, to the east of Stockholm. It was a power outage, though the electricity had come on again after a few minutes.
Without slowing down, he turned onto a smaller road to the right. He hadn’t been along this road before, but the risk of meeting another car was virtually zero. There were hardly any houses around.
He was only about a quarter mile from the house when he spotted something behind a big bush on the verge up ahead. It looked like a car in the ditch on the right. Maybe he should stop to see if something had happened? No, the alarm had to be checked within twenty-five minutes. That’s what their customer guarantee said, anyway.
The gravel in the courtyard crunched as he pulled up.
There was a garage beyond the house, but he couldn’t see any cars in it.
It was quiet. The alarm was no longer sounding. Tony assumed the owner must’ve turned it off. That wasn’t so unusual, either. It was the middle of the night, and their customers usually just went back to sleep after turning off a false alarm.
But it was too quiet here somehow, too still. Like everything was holding its breath. He took out his cell phone and tried calling the customer again. No one answered.
The front door was painted yellow, with a little window set into it. The place looked dark inside. Tony held down the bell, heard it ring faintly.
No one came to the door, so he rang the bell again. This time, he pressed it down for even longer.
He knew what to do in this kind of situation. SP: standard procedure. Visual inspection of the exterior, check the area. Make notes. Report back to HQ.
Any discarded tools in the damp grass, broken electricity enclosures. Forced doors, muddy footprints on the porch, broken windows.
That was the kind of thing he was meant to look out for.
Then his eyes fell on one of the typical causes of false alarms—an open window on the ground floor. Normally, it was down to nothing more than the customer forgetting to close it. In this instance, though, the alarm had gone off because of a power outage, not because someone had opened a window.
Tony went over to it. The grass was long and made his combat boots damp. The room inside was dark.
When he stood on his tiptoes to look in, he realized that a circular hole had been cut into both panes of glass. It was a classic, albeit advanced, burglary technique, and one that he’d seen only twice before.
This was no false alarm. Someone had tried to cut the power. His pulse picked up.
He took a few steps away from the house, called the monitoring center again, and told them what he’d found—that it was definitely a breakin.
“Ongoing or finished?”
“I don’t know. There could still be someone inside, cleaning up.”
Tony shoved his phone back into its holder and walked around the edge of the house, toward the front door.
He made up his mind that if anything shady was still going on, he’d put a stop to it.
He looked at the front door again. This time, he tried the handle and realized it was unlocked.
He stepped into the house.
The coats and jackets hanging on hooks in the narrow hallway fluttered as he opened the door.
The place smelled of old wood and open fires.
He felt for his flashlight.
To the right, a staircase led upstairs. Straight ahead, he could see the kitchen.
Tony took out his collapsible baton and grasped it in his hand. Black hardened steel, the longest model—twenty-six inches. In training, they often used them to practice attack and defense. He’d never needed to use it in service. There was a first time for everything, he thought.
He took a step forward. Heard the crunch of broken glass. He bent down with the flashlight. The hallway floor was covered in tiny shards of glass.
The kitchen seemed clean and tidy. He saw the wide-open window again, this time from the eating area. A big, round clock hung on the wall. It showed quarter past four in the morning.
The room was open plan, the living room on his right.
There really wasn’t much furniture.
An armchair. A coffee table.
Something on the floor behind the coffee table.
He moved closer.
It was a body.
He felt the nausea rise up in him like a jolt through his body.
The head. There was no face left; someone had blown their head to pieces.
Tony’s vomit hit the rug.
He looked down at the floor.
He was shouting and crying into the phone.
“Calm down. I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
“It’s a fucking murder, a bloodbath. I’m telling you, he wasn’t breathing. Send the police, an ambulance, this is the most messed-up thing I’ve ever seen.”