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Authors: Arne Dahl

Europa Blues

BOOK: Europa Blues
11.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



About the Book

About the Author

Also by Arne Dahl

Title Page

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39


About the Book

A Greek gangster arrives in Stockholm, only to be murdered in a macabre fashion at Skansen zoo, his body consumed by animals.

As the Intercrime Unit – a team dedicated to solving international violent crime – investigate what brought him to Sweden, eight Eastern European women vanish from a refugee centre outside of the city while an elderly professor, the tattooed numbers on his arm hinting at his terrible past, is executed at the Jewish cemetery.

Three cases, one team of detectives and an investigation that will take them across Europe and back through history as they desperately search for answers, and the identities of their killers.

About the Author

Arne Dahl is an award-winning Swedish crime writer and literary critic whose work has been translated into over twenty languages.
Europa Blues
won the German Crime Writing Award, which has also been won by authors including Ian Rankin, James Ellroy and John le Carré, while the Swedish adaptations of the ten book Intercrime series have been broadcast on BBC Four.

Alice Menzies is a freelance translator based in London.

Also by Arne Dahl

The Blinded Man

Bad Blood

To the Top of the Mountain

Europa Blues
Arne Dahl
Translated from the Swedish
by Alice Menzies




evening in early May. It was completely still.

Not the slightest of breezes was blowing in over the waters of Saltsjön. Out on Kastellholm, the castle’s flag was hanging limp. The toothed facades of Skeppsbron were like a painted backdrop in the distance. There wasn’t a flutter on the flags over on Stadsgården, not a treetop swaying over on Fjällgatan, and up by Mosebacke, not even the leaves were moving an inch. The only thing distinguishing the dark waters of the Beckholmssund from a mirror was a shifting, rainbow-coloured slick of oil.

For a moment, the young man’s reflection was framed by a nearly perfect concentric rainbow,
as though through a telescopic sight
, but then the circle dispersed and flowed calmly on towards the Beckholm bridge, its colour changing as it moved. The young man brushed off the momentary unease which passed through him and snorted the first line of coke.

He leaned back on the park bench, extending his arms along the back rest and raising his face to the cloudless sky, which was darkening with discernible speed. He didn’t feel any different. Just the same self-assured calmness which had, for that split second, been disturbed. With a defiant smile, he looked down at the playing card lying next to him on the bench. The queen of spades. With a second line of coke waiting for him.

He unrolled the note and licked up the residue of the white powder. Then he held it out and looked at it. One thousand kronor. A Swedish thousand-kronor note. An old man with a beard. He would get bored of the sight of him over the next few months, he knew that much. He rolled the old man back up again and carefully lifted the queen of spades from the bench. He felt doubly brave, doubly strong. To be sitting on a public bench after just a few weeks in a new town – in a new country, at that – and snorting cocaine was ballsy enough, but it was doubly so with the risk of a sudden breeze blowing away his entire high.

Though the evening was completely still.

These days, it took two lines for him to feel anything. He didn’t care that it would soon take three, then four, then five, and he held the rolled-up old bloke above the delights of the queen of spades and snorted his way to paradise.

He could feel it now. Though not with the same kind of force as before, that baseball bat to the jaw, it was more creeping; an immediate, insatiable desire for more.

The high grew slowly but surely, twisting his field of vision sideways, leaning slightly, but not producing any gusts of wind. The dusky city was still completely still, it looked more like a postcard. Lights had started to come on in some of the buildings here and there, the headlights of cars slipping silently by in the distance, and the slightly decayed smell of early spring suddenly grew stronger until it became a sewer, the dung of a couple of enormous giraffes looming over him amid the distorted sound of the piercing, echoing shrieks of children. He hated animals. They scared him; ever since he was a child he had hated them. And now these monstrous, stinking, braying giraffes – like something from a nightmare. A brief wave of panic rushed through him before he realised that the giraffes were nothing more than a couple of large shipyard cranes and that the sound of children was coming from the nearby amusement park. The stench of giraffe dung receded; the air smelled like early spring once more.

Time passed. A lot of time. Unknown time. He was elsewhere, in another time. The high’s time. An unknown prehistoric time.

It was starting to rumble within him. He stood up and regarded the city the same way he would an enemy. Stockholm, he thought, clenching his fist. You ruthlessly beautiful dwarf of a big city. It would be so easy to conquer, he thought, raising his fist towards the capital, as though he was the first ever to have done so.

He turned around in the ever deepening twilight. His vision was still slightly askew, the sounds and smells still slightly warped. Not a person in sight. He hadn’t seen a single person the entire time he had been there. But, despite that, he could feel a kind of presence. Faint, like a mirage. Something that seemed to be moving just outside of his field of vision. He shook off the feeling. Those weren’t the thoughts of a man about to conquer a city.

He picked up the queen of spades from the bench, took pleasure in licking her clean, and then placed her in his inner pocket, closest to his heart. He patted the chest of his thin, pale pink jacket. He unrolled the thousand-kronor note which had been glued to his hand during the immeasurable period of his high. Again, he licked up the last of the white powder and then demonstratively ripped the note into long tendrils which he dropped to the ground. They didn’t move an inch. The night was completely still.

When he started moving, he made a clinking sound. He always did. For him, wealth was still measured by the thickness of the gold chain around his neck. People should be able to
his success.

He was surprised to find Vattugränd, whose name he strenuously spelled his way through from the street sign, completely deserted. Didn’t the Swedes go out at night? It was then he felt how cold it was. And almost pitch black. Completely quiet. Not a single joyful shout from the children in the amusement park.

How long had he been sitting down there by the water, lost deep within his high?

Something swept past his feet. For a moment, he thought they were snakes slinking by. Animals. A brief panic.

Then he saw what it was.

Strips of a thousand-kronor note.

He turned around. There were geese on Saltsjön. The ice-cold wind swept straight through him. The thousand-kronor snakes rushed off towards Djurgårdsstaden.

That was when he felt the strange presence again. It was nothing. Nothing at all. And yet there it was. An ice-cold presence. An icy wind straight through the soul. And yet not at all. As though it was always hovering at the precise point where his vision didn’t reach.

He came up onto the main road. Still not a person in sight. Not a vehicle. He crossed the street and entered the forest. It felt like a forest, anyway. Trees everywhere. And the presence was suddenly much stronger. An owl hooted.

An owl? Animals, he thought.

And then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a shadow move behind a tree. Followed by another.

He stood still. The owl hooted again. Minerva, he thought. Ancient mythology which had been drummed into him during his childhood in the poor quarter of Athens.

Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. Athena’s name once she had been stolen by the Romans.

He paused for a moment, trying to be like Athena. Trying to be wise.

Is this really happening? Am I not just imagining these almost imperceptible movements? And why do I feel scared? Haven’t I stood face-to-face with crazy addicts in the past, taken them down with a few quick moves? I rule an empire. What exactly am I afraid of?

But then his terror materialised. In some ways, it felt better. When a branch broke behind a tree, the noise overpowering the strengthening wind, he knew that they were there. Somehow, it was comforting. A confirmation. He couldn’t see them, but he picked up the pace.

It was almost pitch black now and it felt as though he was running through an ancient forest. Branches were whipping at him. His thick gold chain was jingling and clinking like a cowbell.

Animals, he thought, hurling himself over the road. Not a car in sight. It was as though the world had ceased to exist. Just him and some beings he didn’t understand.

More forest. Trees everywhere. The wind whistling through him. The icy wind. Shadows were shifting at the edge of his vision. Ancient beings, he thought, crossing a narrow road and running straight into a fine-meshed steel fence. He clambered up onto it and it swayed beneath him. He climbed and climbed. His fingers slipped. Not a sound other than the wind. Wait, there: the owl. Piercing. A distorted owl. A terrible sound, joining forces with the incessant wind.

An ancient cry.

The razor-sharp mesh ripped his fingertips to shreds. The presence was everywhere. Darker shadows dancing in the darkness.

He grabbed his pistol from his shoulder holster. He hung from the fence with one hand and shot with the other. Shooting in all directions. Indiscriminately. Silent shots out into the ancient forest. No return fire. The shifting continued unabated around him. Unchanged. Undaunted. Uncontrollable.

He managed to shove the pistol back into its holster, a couple of shots left, one last safety measure, and the closeness of the shadows gave him superhuman powers, at least that’s what he thought as he heaved himself upwards and outwards and grabbed hold of the barbed wire at the top of the fence.

Superhuman powers, he thought with an ironic smile, working the metal barbs out of his hands and swinging over the top.

Now then, he thought as he hopped down into the greenery on the other side of the fence, get over that if you can.

And they could. He immediately felt their presence. He clambered up out of the shrubbery where he had landed and found himself staring straight into a pair of slanted, yellow eyes. He cried out. Pointed ears pricked up above the eyes and a row of razor-sharp teeth appeared beneath. An animal, he thought, throwing himself to one side. Straight into another similar animal. The same slanted, yellowish eyes seeing a completely different world to the one he was seeing. Ancient eyes. As he staggered on through the woodland, suddenly he was back before the ice age.

Wolves, it occurred to him. My God, weren’t they wolves?

BOOK: Europa Blues
11.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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