Read The Shadow Woman Online

Authors: Ake Edwardson

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

The Shadow Woman

BOOK: The Shadow Woman
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Table of Contents
 
 
 
 
INTERNATIONAL PRAISE FOR
THE SHADOW WOMAN
BY ÅKE EDWARDSON
“An extremely accomplished cross between crime fiction and psychological thriller . . . on par with P. D. James.”
—Helsingborgs Dagblad
(Sweden)
 
“Masterful . . . While Åke Edwardson possesses an undertone of humor, his work is full of darkness . . . With
The Shadow Woman
[he] establishes himself among the most exciting crime thriller writers in the country.”
—Motala & Vadstena Tidning
(Sweden)
 
“Erik Winter could be related to Elizabeth George’s Sir Thomas Lynley, and the almost clinical descriptions might evoke pathologist Kay Scarpetta in Patricia Cornwell’s books, while the social ambience could well be inspired by both P. D. James and Minette Walters.”
—Smålänningen
(Sweden)
 
“A dramatic crime chase in Gothenburg, intelligently and excitingly told.”
—Der Spiegel
(Germany)
 
“[Here is] the opportunity to discover a Swede well removed from the ‘Swedish model’ and enter into the world of Åke Edwardson. Try this voyage, and you will return to it.”
—Marianne
(France)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Åke Edwardson has won the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy award three times. His eleven Erik Winter novels have been published in twenty-one countries. He lives in Gothenburg, Sweden.
PENGUIN BOOKS Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. • Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) • Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
 
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
First published in Penguin Books 2010
 
 
Copyright © Åke Edwardson, 1998 Translation copyright © Per Carlsson, 2010 All rights reserved
eISBN : 978-1-101-46000-9
 
Originally published as
Rop fran langt avstand
by Norstedts Forlag, Stockholm.
 
Publisher’s Note This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
 
CIP data available 978-0-14-311794-0
 
 
 
The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

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For three years a massive drug war between the Hells Angels and the Bandidos has ripped through Scandinavia. Antitank rockets swiped from the Swedish military have been launched at club-houses, gunfights have erupted in airports, car bombs have been planted and bystanders killed. A well-publicized truce will soon bring the Great Nordic Biker War to a close, but not before dozens of lives are claimed by the violence, many of them innocent.
PART 1
SHE SAT WITH MOMMY A LONG TIME. SHE SLEPT FOR A WHILE
in the backseat and then crawled up front. It was cold there and Mommy started the car and let it run for a while and then turned it off again. Mommy hadn’t answered when she’d asked, so she asked again and Mommy’s voice was hard. So she went quiet. “Why isn’t he coming?” Mommy said, but straight out and not to her. “Where in God’s name is he?”
Someone was supposed to come there and pick her up and then drive her home, but nobody came. She wanted to be with Mommy, but she also wanted to sleep in her own bed. It was darker now and it was raining. She couldn’t see out because the windows were fogged up. She crawled closer and wiped the window with her sleeve. Cars drove past and the headlights twirled around inside the car where they were sitting. “Why can’t we go?” she had asked. Mommy hadn’t answered, so she asked again. “Quiet now,” Mommy said this time. Then she didn’t say anything after that, didn’t dare when the voice from the front seat was so stern. Mommy said a few bad words. She had heard them so many times that it didn’t matter. She had said words like that herself and nothing had happened to her. But she knew it was wrong somehow anyway. The rain pattered against the roof.
Pitter-patter, pitter-patter
. She thought about the rain like that for a long while, drummed her fingers on the seat next to her:
pitter-patter, pitter-patter
.
“Oh God,” Mommy said, and said it a few times more. “Stay here.” Mommy opened the door up front. “You have to stay here while I go over there and make a phone call.”
It wasn’t quite evening yet, but it was dark out anyway.
“I can barely see you,” Mommy said. “You have to answer me.”
“Where are you going?”
“I’m just going over to the telephone booth on the corner to make a call. It won’t take long.”
“Where is it? Can’t I go with you?”
“I told you to stay here!” Mommy said in her stern voice, and she said yes and Mommy slammed the door and she got rain spattered on her in the backseat. She gave a start from the drops of rain hitting her.
Then she sat quietly and listened for footsteps outside and thought she heard Mommy’s shoes against the pavement, like a
clickety clickety clack
. It might have been somebody else, but she couldn’t see. It was foggy outside.
She gave a start when Mommy came back. “Nobody there!” Mommy said, or more like shouted it. “Jesus Christ. They’ve left.”
Mommy started the car and they drove off. “Are we going home now?”
“Soon,” Mommy said. “There’s just something we have to do first.”
“But you said I was gonna go home.”
“We are going home.” Mommy stopped the car again, and then she got out and came and sat in the backseat with her.
“Are you sad, Mommy?”
“No. It’s just the rain. Now listen to me. First we’re going to go to this other place to pick up some men. You hear what I’m saying?”
“We’re going to pick up some men.”
“Yes. Now, these men are going to run to us when we drive up—it’s this game we’re going to play with them. And when they come, they’re going to jump into the car before it’s stopped. Do you understand?”
“They’re going to jump into the car?”
“We’re gonna slow down, and then they’re going to jump into the car, and then we’re gonna drive off again.”
“Then are we gonna go home?”
“After a little while we will.”
“I wanna go home now.”
“We’re going to go home. But first we’re just going to play this little game.”
“It’s a stupid game.”
“It’s very important that you lie down on the floor when we play the game. You have to lie down on the floor when I tell you to. Do you understand?”
“But why?”
Mommy looked at her, and she looked at her watch many times too. It was sort of all blurry in here now, but Mommy could see her watch.
“Because they’re going to run really fast and there may be other people who aren’t in the game who might try to jump into the car too. And they might bump into you or something. That’s why you have to lie down on the floor behind my chair.”
She nodded.
“I want you to try doing it now.”
“But you said that they—”
“Lie down!”
Mommy grabbed hold of her and it felt hard, smarting around her neck. She lay down on the floor and it smelled bad and wet and it was difficult to breathe. She coughed and lay against the coldness. Her arm hurt.
Mommy went back up front and started the car, and she sat up again. Mommy told her to get back down on the floor.
“Is it starting now?”
“Yes. Are you lying down?”
“I’ve crawled on the floor now.”
“You mustn’t get up,” Mommy said. “It can be very dangerous.”
And Mommy said more stuff about how dangerous it was. “And you have to be quiet too.”
She thought it was stupid for a game to be dangerous, but she didn’t dare say that now.
“Be quiet!” Mommy said in a stern voice even though she hadn’t said anything.
She lay still and listened to the sounds from underneath—it was almost like lying on the road,
shakety shakety shake
,
bumpety bumpety bump—
and suddenly she heard a scream and then another, and then Mommy shouted something. The door above her was yanked open. She felt something hard on top of her, and heavy, and she wanted to cry out but she couldn’t. Or maybe she didn’t want to. The doors opened and slammed shut, and opened again and slammed once more, and she heard a bang when one of the doors up front slammed against the car; it sounded like fireworks and as if the rain was hitting the car much harder. Diagonally above her she saw that the window had cracked but held together anyway, so no pieces of glass fell down on her or onto the backseat.
Everyone was shouting and screaming, and she couldn’t hear what they were saying. She listened for Mommy but couldn’t hear her. The car swerved back and forth, and now they were driving again. There was something like a scream from underneath the car; she heard it because she was lying so close to it. And now she heard one of the men sitting in the backseat and it sounded as if he was crying. It was strange to hear a man making that kind of sound. This was a game she didn’t like.
1
ERIK WINTER WOKE UP LATE. HE’D GOTTEN WRAPPED UP IN HIS
sheets and had to wriggle around to disentangle his body from the bedclothes. The sun was hanging in place off the balcony. The apartment was already hot.
He sat on the edge of the bed and ran his hand over the stubble on his face, his head heavy from something between sleeping and waking. Then he walked across the wooden floor to the shower and stood there, waiting for the water to warm. Wuss, he thought to himself.
He lathered up, feeling his testicles tighten. Two nights before, Angela had come home from a double shift at the hospital. In the morning hours they’d played the beast with two backs, and he’d felt young again and strong; the orgasm had surged through him for so long that he’d cried out.
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