Authors: Jeremy Duns
Acclaimed author of both fiction and non-fiction, Jeremy Duns is British but currently lives and works in Finland. Visit him at www.jeremy-duns.com and find him on Twitter
@jeremyduns and on Facebook.
Also by Jeremy Duns
Song of Treason
The Moscow Option
First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2016
A CBS company
Copyright © Jeremy Duns, 2016
This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission.
® and © 1997 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
The right of Jeremy Duns to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
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Paperback ISBN: 978-0-85720-971-9
eBook ISBN: 978-0-85720-972-6
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to
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For Johanna, Rebecca and Astrid
Tuesday, 28 October 1969, Archipelago Sea, Finland
Gunnar Hansson pe ered through his binoculars at the islet a few hundred yards to his north, and watched the bullet tear into the man in the diving suit.
He’d set out from the lighthouse half an hour earlier, having been woken by a noise he had gradually realised was a helicopter passing overhead. That had suggested some kind of emergency,
most likely an operation by the coastguard patrol – and yet the radio set hulking in the corner of the room had been silent. He’d forced himself out of bed and over to the telescope,
waking Helena as he did and telling her to double-check the receiver. But there was nothing, just the harsh hiss of static.
So he had scanned the sky, finding the helicopter after a few minutes and shifting his stance rapidly to keep it in sight. It had reached an area where visibility was poor, with layers of mist
moving over the water, but it looked like it was coming down to land somewhere in the skerries behind Örö.
‘What’s happening?’ Helena had asked, an edge of panic in her voice.
He took his eye from the telescope. ‘I don’t know. I’m going out to see.’ He began dressing, pulling on a pair of waterproof trousers, a thick sweater and his oilskin
cape. ‘If I’m not back by five, call Bengt.’
Bengt Hagerlund manned communications for the coastguard in the area. Gunnar didn’t want to sound the alarm prematurely: a patrol could be in the midst of an operation or conducting an
exercise of some sort and he might interrupt something important by panicking. He found a torch and a pair of boots, kissed Helena on the lips and clambered down the staircase.
It had rained earlier in the night, so it took him a few minutes to walk the short distance across the rocks and down to the jetty – one slip and he could break his neck. The small
motorboat rocked gently against the lapping waves. Once he had loosened the chains he threw them ashore and stepped in. He had glanced up to the tower: Helena stood by the lens watching him, as she
did whenever he left the island, and for a moment he’d pictured her pale grey eyes imploring him to return quickly. Then he had headed out towards Örö.
Now he sat with the engine idle and his mouth agape. He had arrived a couple of minutes earlier and watched as some sort of argument had broken out between three men on a tiny islet whose name
even he didn’t know, leaving him wondering what the hell they were shouting about and why they had chosen such a place to do so. Then suddenly there had been a gunshot, and a prick of blood
had appeared in the forehead of one of the men, the one wearing the long coat. An instant after that a second shot had been fired, and the man in the diving suit had also fallen to the ground.
Gunnar had immediately reached for the revolver he kept in a locker in the stern, but he knew it would be suicidal to approach. The Finnish coastguard had helicopters with orange and green
livery, but on the way in he had seen that this one, parked on the eastern edge of the islet, was khaki-coloured with side-mounted machine guns, and had a large red star painted on the clamshell
door of the rear fuselage.
Gunnar detested Russians. He was fifty-eight years old, as strong as a bear, a Swedish-speaking Finn who had lived in this part of the archipelago all his life. His father had been one of the
first lighthouse-keepers on Bengtskär, and he had taken over from him. In the war against the Russians, a Finnish garrison had been stationed there to observe naval movements from the tower,
until one night in 1941 the Soviets had landed with patrol boats. Gunnar and several others had been caught in a fierce fire-fight on the upper floors, while others had engaged them among the
crevasses below. The Russians had eventually been repelled with the help of the Finnish Air Force, but thirty-one Finns died in the battle.
Gunnar had suffered only minor injuries, but he hadn’t forgotten those brutal hours and the friends and colleagues he had lost in them. He had stayed on at Bengtskär for several
years, until the coastguard had converted it to an unmanned station and he and Helena had moved a few miles west to run the smaller lighthouse on Utö.
He watched as the shooter and another figure carried the man in the coat over to the helicopter. He expected them to return and repeat the process for the other man, but instead the
helicopter’s rotors started up and it lifted into the air, a gust shaking it for a moment before it righted itself and swung east. Gunnar watched until it was no longer visible, then started
up the motor and pointed it towards the skerry.
The man in the diving suit had been shot in the stomach, and Gunnar couldn’t feel a pulse. He considered leaving him there, but something about that seemed wrong so he picked him up by the
arms and started carrying him to the boat, dragging him on his heels. It was difficult work, and he had to stop for breath several times on the way. To his surprise, once he had eventually managed
to deposit the man into the front bench of the boat, he opened his mouth and spoke, although his voice was barely a whisper.
Jag är Engelsman
Gunnar nodded, although he didn’t understand why an Englishman would be here, speaking Swedish, with a bullet in his stomach. In a compartment in the rear of the boat he found a blanket.
He bound it around the man’s abdomen as best he could, and watched as the cloth bloomed a brownish red. He was about to cast off and head home when he noticed that the man’s right hand
was bent strangely, waving in the breeze, and he realised he was trying to tell him something. He followed the line of his forefinger, and saw a fallen log lying against the edge of the water on
the far side of the islet.
He jumped overboard and trudged back over the rocks. It wasn’t a log. It was a woman, the back of her head a mess of blood and matter, her dress clinging obscenely to her young body. He
heaved her from the water and began carrying her back to join the Englishman.
Wednesday, 12 November 1969, Moscow