Authors: Hakan Ostlundh
The minister stepped up to the head end of the two caskets and began the funeral service.
“We are gathered here today to follow Malin Andersson and Axel Andersson Kjellander to their final rest. Mother and son…”
The minister’s words, the customary ones, restored him in one stroke to the present. The funeral, death. Malin and Axel. The bodies in the caskets. Under the lids. He could not understand that they were there, under the white lids. How were they lying? What did they look like?
Ellen’s hand was damp against his. The funeral attendees kept silent around him. The room was white and stripped down. A chancel with two doors to the sacristy, a pulpit in the corner. The minister’s voice. She spoke about Malin and Axel. He could hear the wind outside, then a car passing on the road.
Henrik had met the minister three times to talk about the funeral, how he wanted it. But mostly they had talked about Malin and Axel. He had tried to describe them to her. She had listened, asked a question or two. It had not been difficult for him to talk about them, even if he was forced to stop sometimes because his voice got stuck or death became far too real.
The last time they met before the funeral he had talked about guilt. The thoughts that it was his fault. It couldn’t be avoided. However you twisted and turned it, it was his fault, somehow.
The minister listened to him for a long time. Then she looked at him with a gaze that was both sympathetic and demanding. “I think your daughter needs you more than your guilt needs you.”
Many thanks to Daniel Åhlén at the Gotland Police Department, as well as to Sune Jacobsson, formerly with the same agency, whose viewpoints I always listen to and almost always adapt to. Sometimes, however, police realism has had to take a backseat to fiction.
Many thanks also to Inger Nennesmo and Lars Rambe, who contributed medical and legal details.
* * *
is partly inspired by true events, but all persons are fictional, as is the story in its entirety.
grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, where he still lives today. He has worked as a journalist for Sweden’s bestselling morning paper and spends summers on Gotland with his wife and three sons. You can sign up for email updates
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This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2011 by Håkan Östlundh by agreement with Grand Agency. Translation © copyright 2015 by Paul Norlen. All rights reserved. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.
Cover photograph © Chris Lofqvist Photography / Getty Images
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The Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request.
ISBN 978-1-250-02948-5 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-250-02949-2 (e-book)
First published in Sweden as
by Ordfront in 2011
First U.S. Edition: August 2015