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Authors: Henning Mankell

Tags: #Police Procedural, #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General


BOOK: Firewall
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Henning Mankell was born in Stockholm in 1948. He is the prize-winning author of the eight novels in the Inspector Wallander series which has been translated into many languages and consistently tops the best-seller lists throughout Europe. His novel
won the CWA Gold Dagger in 2001. Mankell has worked as an actor, theatre director and manager in Sweden and in Mozambique, where he is head of Teatro Avenida in Maputo.
Ebba Segerberg teaches English at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri.
Faceless Killers
The Dogs of Riga
The White Lioness
The Man who Smiled
The Fifth Woman
One Step Behind
The Return of the Dancing Master
Before the Frost
Chronicler of the Winds
Henning Mankell


Ebba Segerberg
This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
ISBN 9781407017686
Version 1.0
Published by Vintage 2004
Copyright © Henning Mankell 1998
English translation © 2002 by The New Press
Henning Mankell has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work
This electronic book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser
First published with the title
Ordfront Förlag, Stockholm, 1998
English translation first published by
The New Press, New York, 2002
First published in Great Britain by The Harvill Press 2003
Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road
London sw1v 2SA
Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited
can be found at:
The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN: 9781407017686
Version 1.0
"A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead"

The Catalyst


The wind died down towards evening, then stopped completely.
He was standing on the balcony. Some days he could see a sliver of ocean between the buildings across the way. Right now it was too dark. Sometimes he set up his telescope and looked into the lighted windows of the other flats. But he invariably began to feel as if someone were on to him and then he would stop.
The stars were very clear and bright.
It's already autumn, he thought. There may even be a touch of frost tonight, though it's early for Skåne.
A car drove past. He shivered and went back in. The door to the balcony was hard to close and needed some adjustment. He added it to the "to do" list he kept on a pad in the kitchen.
He walked into the living room, pausing in the doorway to look around. Since it was Sunday, the place was immaculately clean. It gave him a feeling of satisfaction.
He sat at his desk and pulled out the thick journal he kept in one of the drawers. As usual he began by reading his entry from the night before.
Saturday, October 4, 1997. Gusty winds, 8–10 metres per second according to the Meteorological Office. Broken cloud formations. Temperature at 6 a.m. 7°C. Temperature at 2 p.m. 8°C.
Below that he had added four sentences:
No activity in C-space today. No messages. C doesn't reply when prompted. All is calm.
He took off the top of the ink pot and carefully dipped the nib in the ink. It had been his father's pen, saved from his early days as an assistant clerk at a bank in Tomelilla. He himself would use no other pen for writing his journal.
The wind died away as he was writing. The thermometer outside the kitchen window read 3°C. The sky was clear. He recorded that cleaning the flat had taken three hours and 25 minutes, ten minutes faster than last Sunday.
He had also taken a walk down to the marina, after meditating in St Maria's Church for half an hour. He hesitated, then wrote:
Short walk in the evening.
He pressed the blotting paper over the lines he had written, wiped the pen and put the top back on the ink pot. Before closing the journal, he glanced at the old ship's clock on the desk. It was 11.20.
In the hall he put on his leather jacket and his old rubber boots. He checked that he had his wallet and his keys.
Once on the street, he stood for a while in the shadows and looked about him. There was no-one there, as he had expected. He walked down to the left, as he usually did, crossing the main road to Malmö, heading towards the department stores and the red-brick building that housed the Tax Authorities. He increased his pace until he found his normal, smooth late-night rhythm. He walked more quickly in the daytime to get his heart rate up, but the late-night walks had a different purpose. This was when he tried to empty his mind, preparing for sleep and the day to come.
Outside one of the department stores he passed a woman with an Alsatian. He almost always encountered her on his late-night walks. A car drove by at high speed, its radio blaring.
They have no inkling of what's in store for them, he thought. All these hooligans who drive around damaging for ever their hearing with their obnoxious music. They don't know. They know as little as that woman out walking her dog.
The thought cheered him up. He thought about the power he wielded, the sense of being one of the chosen. He had the power to do away with the ingrained, corrupt ways of this society and create a new order, something completely unexpected.
He stopped and looked up at the night sky.
Nothing is truly comprehensible, he thought. My own life is as incomprehensible as the fact that the light I see now from the stars has been travelling for aeons. The only source of meaning is my own course of action, like the deal I was offered 20 years ago and that I accepted without hesitation.
He continued on his way, going faster, because his thoughts were exciting him. He felt a growing impatience. They had waited so long for this. Now the moment was approaching when they would open the invisible dams and watch the tidal wave sweep over the world.
But not yet. The moment was not quite here, and impatience was a weakness he would not permit himself.
He turned round and started back. As he walked past the Tax Authority he decided to go to the cash machine in the square. He put his hand over the pocket where he kept his wallet. He wasn't going to make a withdrawal, just get an account balance and make sure all was as it should be.
He stopped in the light by the ATM and took out his blue card. The woman with the Alsatian was long gone. A heavily loaded truck went by on the Malmö road, probably on its way to one of the Poland ferries. By the sound of it, the muffler was damaged.
He punched in his code and selected "account balance". The machine returned his card and he put it back in his wallet. He listened to the whirring and clicking and smiled. If they only knew, he thought. If people only knew what lay in store for them.
The paper slip showing his balance emerged from the slot. He felt around for his glasses before he realised he had left them in his other coat. He felt a twinge of irritation at this oversight.
He walked to where the light was brightest, under the street lamp, and studied the slip of paper. There was Friday's withdrawal, as well as the cash he had taken out on Saturday. His balance was 9,765 kronor. Everything was in order.
What happened next came without warning. It was as if he had been kicked in the chest by a horse. The pain was sudden and violent.
He fell forward, the piece of paper clutched in his hand. As his head hit the pavement he experienced an instant of clarity. His final thought was that he couldn't understand what was happening to him. A darkness enveloped him from all sides.
A second truck on its way to the night ferry drove past.
Then calm returned to the streets.
It was just after midnight on Monday, October 6, 1997.
BOOK: Firewall
11.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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