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Authors: Emelie Schepp

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BOOK: Marked for Life
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CHAPTER
TWO

Monday, April 16

THE TRIAL WAS OVER
, and Prosecutor Jana Berzelius was satisfied with the result. She had been absolutely certain that the defendant would be found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm.

He had kicked his own sister senseless in front of her four-year-old child and then left her to die in her apartment. No doubt it was an honor crime. Even so, the defendant's solicitor, Peter Ramstedt, looked rather surprised when the verdict was announced.

Jana nodded to him before she left the courtroom. She didn't want to discuss the judgment with anybody, especially not with the dozen or so journalists who stood and waited outside the court with their cameras and cell phones. Instead, she made her way toward the emergency exit and pushed the white fire door open. Then she quickly ran down the steps as the clock read 11:35.

Avoiding journalists had become more of a rule than an exception for Jana Berzelius. Three years earlier, when she started in the prosecutor's office in Norrköping, it was different. Then she had appreciated the coverage and praise the media gave her.
Norrköpings Tidningar
had, for example, titled a story about her Top Student has a Place in Court. They used phrases like
comet career
and
next stop Prosecutor-General
when they wrote about her. Her cell phone vibrated in the pocket of her jacket, and she stopped in front of the entrance to the garage to look at the display before answering. At the same time, she pushed open the door into the heated garage.

“Hello, Father,” she said directly.

“Well, how did it go?”

“Two years' prison and ninety in damages.”

“Are you satisfied with that?”

It would never occur to Karl Berzelius to congratulate his daughter on a successful court case. Jana was accustomed to his taciturnity. Even her mother, Margaretha, who was warm and loving during her childhood, seemed to prefer to clean the house rather than play games with her. She'd put in a laundry rather than read bedtime stories, or clean the kitchen rather than tuck her daughter into bed for the night. Now Jana was thirty and she treated both her parents with the same unemotional respect with which they had raised her.

“I am satisfied,” Jana answered emphatically.

“Your mother wonders if you're coming home on the first of May? She wants to have a family dinner then.”

“What time?”

“Seven.”

“I'll come.”

Jana clicked off the call, unlocked her black BMW X-6 and sat down behind the wheel. She threw her briefcase onto the leather-upholstered passenger seat and put her mobile on her lap.

Jana's mother also frequently phoned her daughter after a court case. But never before her husband did. Such was the rule. So when Jana felt her cell vibrate again, she immediately answered as she expertly maneuvered her car out of the tight garage space.

“Hello, Mother.”

“Hello, Jana,” said the male voice.

Jana braked and the car jerked to a halt in the reversing movement. The voice belonged to Chief Public Prosecutor Torsten Granath, her superior. He sounded keen to hear the case results. “Well?”

Jana was surprised at his evident curiosity and briefly repeated the outcome of the trial.

“Good. Good. But I'm actually calling about another matter. I want you to assist me on an investigation. A woman has been detained after she called the police to report finding her husband dead. He was the official in charge of migration asylum issues in Norrköping. According to the police, he was shot dead. Murdered. You'll have a free hand in the investigation.”

Jana remained silent, so Torsten continued:

“Gunnar Öhrn and his team are waiting at the police station. What do you say?”

Jana looked at the dashboard—11:48 a.m. She took a short breath and got her car moving again.

“I'll drive straight there.”

* * *

Jana Berzelius quickly walked in through the main entrance of the Norrköping police station and took the elevator up to the third floor. The sound of her heels echoed in the wide corridor. She looked straight ahead and gave only a brief nod to the two uniformed policemen that she passed.

The head of the CID, Gunnar Öhrn, waited for her outside his office and showed her to the conference room. One long wall was dominated by windows which overlooked the Norrtull roundabout, where the lunch traffic had already become noticeable. On the opposite wall a whiteboard of considerable size was mounted, along with a film screen. A projector hung from the ceiling.

Jana went up to the oval table where the team sat waiting. First she exchanged greetings with DCI Henrik Levin, then she nodded to the technician Ola Söderström, Anneli Lindgren and Mia Bolander before sitting down.

“Chief Public Prosecutor Torsten Granath has just put Jana Berzelius in charge of the preliminary investigation of the Hans Juhlén case.”

“Right.”

Mia Bolander clenched her teeth, crossed her arms and leaned back. She distrusted the woman she considered her rival, who was about the same age as she. The investigation would be arduous with Jana Berzelius at the helm.

The few times Mia Bolander had been forced to work with Jana Berzelius had not made her feel friendly toward the prosecutor. Mia felt Jana just had no personality. She was too stiff, too formal. She never seemed to relax and enjoy herself. If you are colleagues, you ought to get to know one another more. Perhaps share a beer or two after work and just chat a bit. Be social. But Mia had relatively quickly learned that Jana was a person who didn't appreciate such friendly moments. Any question, no matter how small, about her private life was answered with just an arrogant look.

Mia considered Jana Berzelius an arrogant fucking diva. Unfortunately, nobody else shared Mia's opinion. On the contrary, they nodded appreciatively when Gunnar presented Jana now.

What Mia detested most was Jana's status as an upper-class girl. Jana was old money, while Mia, with her working-class background, was mortgaged. That was as good a reason as any for her to keep her distance from Jana and her airs.

Out of the corner of her eye, Jana noted the disdainful looks from the female inspector but chose to ignore them. She opened her briefcase and pulled out a notepad and pen.

Gunnar Öhrn drank the last few drops from a bottle of mineral water, then handed out packets to everyone which contained copies of everything they had documented about the case so far. It included the initial report; photos from the crime scene and immediate vicinity; a sketch of the Juhlén house where the victim, Hans Juhlén, had been found; and a short description of Juhlén. Lastly came a log with times and investigative steps that had already been taken since the victim had been discovered.

Gunnar pointed to the timeline that had been drawn on the whiteboard. He also described the initial report of the conversation with the victim's wife, Kerstin Juhlén, which had been signed by the police officers in the patrol car. They had been the first to interview her.

“Kerstin Juhlén was, however, hard to talk to properly,” said Gunnar.

She had initially come close to being hysterical, had screamed loudly and talked incoherently. At one point she started to hyperventilate. And all the time she had repeatedly said she didn't kill her husband. She only found him in the living room. Dead.

“So do we suspect her, then?” said Jana and noticed that Mia was still glaring at her.

“Yes, she is of interest. We have detained her. She hasn't got a verifiable alibi.”

Gunnar thumbed through the packet of papers.

“Okay, to summarize then. Hans Juhlén was murdered some time between 15:00 and 19:00 yesterday. Perpetrators unknown. The forensic experts says the murder took place in the house. That is, the body had not been transported from anywhere else. Correct?”

He nodded to Anneli Lindgren to confirm.

“That's right. He died there.”

“The body was taken to the medical examiner's lab at 22:21 and inspectors continued to go through the house until after midnight.”

“Yes, and I found these.”

Anneli put down ten sheets of paper with a single sentence written on each. “They lay well hidden in the back of the wardrobe in the victim's bedroom. They appear to be short threatening letters.”

“Do we know who sent them and to whom they were addressed?” asked Henrik as he reached across to examine them. Jana made a note about them in her notepad.

“No. I got these copies from forensics in Linköping this morning. It'll probably take a day or so before they can get us more information,” said Anneli.

“What do they say?” said Mia. She pulled her hands inside the sleeves of her knitted sweater, put her elbows on the table and looked at Anneli with curiosity.

“The same message is on each one—‘Pay now or risk paying the bigger price.'”

“Blackmail,” said Henrik.

“So it would seem. We spoke to Mrs. Juhlén. She denies any knowledge of the letters. She seemed genuinely surprised about them.”

“They hadn't been reported then, these threats?” said Jana and wrinkled her brow.

“No, nothing has been reported by the victim himself, his wife or anybody else,” said Gunnar.

“And what about the murder weapon?” said Jana, switching the topic.

“We haven't found one yet. Nothing was near the body or in the immediate vicinity,” said Gunnar.

“Any DNA traces or shoe tracks?”

“No,” said Anneli. “But when the wife came home, a window was open in the living room. It seems fairly clear that the perpetrator gained entrance that way. The wife closed it, unfortunately, which has made it more difficult for us. But we did manage to find two interesting handprints.”

“Whose prints?” said Jana and held her pen ready to note down a name.

“Don't know yet, but everything points to their being the prints of a child. The strange thing is that the couple don't have any children.”

Jana looked up from her notepad.

“Is that really significant? Surely they know someone who has children. A friend? Relative?” she said.

“We haven't been able to ask Kerstin Juhlén more about it yet,” answered Gunnar.

“Well, that must be the next step. Preferably straightaway.”

Jana took her calendar out of her briefcase and flipped through to today's date. Reminders, times and names were neatly written on the pale yellow pages.

“I want us to talk to her as soon as possible.”

“I'll phone her lawyer, Peter Ramstedt, right away,” said Gunnar.

“Good,” said Jana. “Get back to me with a time as soon as you can.” She put her calendar back in her briefcase. “Have you questioned any of the neighbors yet?”

“Yes, the nearest ones,” said Gunnar.

“And?”

“Nothing. Nobody saw or heard anything.”

“Then ask more. Knock on all the doors along the entire street and in the immediate vicinity. Lindö has many big homes, a lot of them with large picture windows.”

“Yes, I imagine you would know that, of course,” said Mia.

Jana looked directly at Mia.

“What I am saying is that somebody must have seen or heard something.”

Mia glared back, then looked away.

“What more do we know about Hans Juhlén?” Jana went on.

“He lived a fairly ordinary life, it seems,” said Gunnar and read from the packet. “He was born in Kimstad in 1953, so he was fifty-nine. Spent his childhood there. The family moved to Norrköping in 1965, when he was twelve. He studied economics at university and worked for four years in an accounting firm before he got a position in the Migration Board's asylum department and worked his way up to become the head. He met his wife, Kerstin, when he was eighteen and the year after that they married in a registry office. They have a summer cottage by Lake Vättern. That's all we've got so far.”

“Friends? Acquaintances?” Mia said grumpily. “Have we checked them?”

“We don't know anything about his friends yet. Or his wife's. But we've started mapping them, yes,” said Gunnar.

“A more detailed conversation with the wife will help fill in more detail,” said Henrik.

“Yes, I know,” said Gunnar.

“His cell phone?” Jana wondered.

“I've asked the service provider for a list of calls to and from his number. Hopefully I'll have that tomorrow latest,” said Gunnar.

“And what have we got from the autopsy results?”

“At the moment, we know only that Hans Juhlén was both shot and died where he was found. The medical examiner is giving us a preliminary report today.”

“I need a copy of that,” Jana said.

“Henrik and Mia are going straight there after this meeting.”

“Fine. I'll tag along,” said Jana, and smiled to herself when she heard the deep sigh from Inspector Bolander.

CHAPTER
THREE

THE SEA WAS ROUGH
, which meant that the stench got even worse in the confined space. The seven-year-old girl sat in the corner. She pulled at her mama's skirt and put it over her mouth. She imagined that she was at home in her bed, or rocking in a cradle when the ship rolled in the waves.

The girl breathed in and out with shallow breaths. Every time she exhaled, the cloth would lift above her mouth. Every time she inhaled, it would cover her lips. She tried to breathe harder and harder to keep the cloth off her face. Then one time she blew so hard it flew off and vanished.

She felt for it with her hand. In the dim light she instead caught sight of her toy mirror on the floor. It was pink, with a butterfly on it and a big crack in the glass. She had found it in a bag of rubbish that somebody had thrown onto the street. Now she picked it up and held it in front of her face, pushed away a strand of hair from her forehead and inspected her dark tangled hair, her big eyes and long eyelashes.

Somebody coughed violently in the space, and the girl gave a start. She tried to see who it was, but it was difficult to distinguish people's faces in the dark.

She wondered when they would arrive, but she didn't dare ask again. Papa had hushed her when she had asked the last time how long they would have to sit in this stupid iron box. Now Mama coughed too. It was hard to breathe, it really was. A lot of people had to share the little oxygen inside. The girl let her hand wander along the steel wall. Then she felt for the soft cloth from her mama's skirt and pulled it over her nose.

The floor was hard, and she straightened her back and changed position before continuing to run her hand along the steel wall. She stretched out her index and middle fingers and let them gallop back and forth along the wall and down to the floor. Mama always used to laugh when she did that at home and say that she must have given birth to a horse girl.

At home, in the shed in La Pintana, the girl had built a toy stable under the kitchen table and pretended her doll was a horse. The last three birthdays, she had wished for a real pony of her own. She knew that she wouldn't get one. She rarely got any presents, even for her birthday. They could hardly afford food even, Papa had told her. Anyway, the girl dreamed of a pony of her own that she could ride to school. It would be fast, just as fast as her fingers that now galloped back up the wall.

Mama didn't laugh this time. She was probably too tired, the girl thought, and looked up at her mother's face.

Oh, how much longer would it actually take? Stupid, stupid journey! It wasn't supposed to be such a long trip. Papa had said when they filled the plastic bags with clothes that they were going on an adventure, a big adventure. They would travel by boat for a while to a new home. And she would make lots of new friends. It would be fun.

Some of her friends were traveling with them. Danilo and Ester. She liked Danilo; he was nice, but not Ester. She could be a little nasty. She would tease, and that sort of thing. There were a couple of other children on the same journey too, but she didn't know them; she had never even seen them before. They didn't like all being in a boat. Not the youngest one at any rate, the baby, she was crying all the time. But now she'd gone quiet.

The girl galloped her fingers back and forth again. Then she stretched to one side to reach up even higher, then down even lower. When her fingers reached all the way into the corner, she felt something sticking out. She became curious and screwed her eyes up in the dark to see what it was. A metal plate. She strained forward to try and study the little silver plate that was screwed into the wall. She saw some letters on it and she tried to make out what they said.
V...
P...
Then there was a letter she didn't recognize.

“Mama?” she whispered. “What letter is this?” She crossed her two fingers to show her.

“X,”
her mother whispered back. “An
X
.”

X
, the girl thought,
V
,
P
,
X
,
O
. And then some numbers. She counted six of them. There were six numbers.

BOOK: Marked for Life
7.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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