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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Also by Henning Mankell

Title Page

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Afterword

Epilogue

Copyright

About the Book

Sweden, winter, 1991. Inspector Kurt Wallander and his team receive an anonymous tip-off. A few days later a life raft is washed up on a beach. In it are two men, dressed in expensive suits, shot dead.

The dead men were criminals, victims of what seems to have been a gangland hit. But what appears to be an open-and-shut case soon takes on a far more sinister aspect. Wallander travels across the Baltic Sea, to Riga in Latvia, where he is plunged into a frozen, alien world of police surveillance, scarcely veiled threats, and lies. Doomed always to be one step behind the shadowy figures he pursues, only Wallander’s obstinate desire to see that justice is done brings the truth to light.

About the Author

Henning Mankell has become a worldwide phenomenon with his crime writing, gripping thrillers and atmospheric novels set in Africa. His prizewinning and critically acclaimed Inspector Wallander Mysteries are currently dominating bestseller lists all over the globe. His books have been translated into forty-five languages and made into numerous international film and television adaptations: most recently the BAFTA-award-winning BBC television series Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh. Mankell devotes much of his free time to working with Aids charities in Africa, where he is also director of the Teatro Avenida in Maputo. In 2008, the University of St Andrews conferred Henning Mankell with an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in recognition of his major contribution to literature and to the practical exercise of conscience.

www.henningmankell.co.uk

Laurie Thompson was the editor of the influential Swedish Book Review from its founding in 1983 until 2002. He has translated many authors from Swedish, including three of the Wallander novels.

Also by Henning Mankell

Kurt Wallander Series

Faceless Killers

The Dogs of Riga

The White Lioness

The Man Who Smiled

Sidetracked

The Fifth Woman

One Step Behind

Firewall

Before the Frost

The Pyramid

The Troubled Man

Fiction

The Return of the Dancing Master

Chronicler of the Winds

Depths

Kennedy’s Brain

The Eye of the Leopard

Italian Shoes

The Man from Beijing

Daniel

Non-fiction

I Die, But the Memory Lives On

Young Adult Fiction

A Bridge to the Stars

Shadows in the Twilight

When the Snow Fell

The Journey to the End of the World

Children’s Fiction

The Cat Who Liked Rain

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CHAPTER 1

IT STARTED SNOWING shortly after 10 a.m.

The man in the wheelhouse of the fishing boat cursed. He’d heard the forecast, but hoped they might make the Swedish coast before the storm hit. If he hadn’t been held up at Hiddensee the night before, he’d have been within sight of Ystad by now and could have changed course a few degrees eastwards. As it was, there were still 7 nautical miles to go and if the snow started coming down heavily, he’d be forced to heave to and wait until visibility improved.

He cursed again. It doesn’t pay to be mean, he thought. I should have done what I’d meant to do last autumn, and bought a new radar. My old Decca can’t be relied on any more. I should have got one of those new American models, but I was too mean. I didn’t trust the East Germans, either. Didn’t trust them not to cheat me.

He found it hard to grasp that there was no longer a country called East Germany, that a whole nation state had ceased to exist. History had tidied up its old borders overnight. Now there was just Germany, and nobody really knew what was going to happen when the two formerly separate peoples tried to work together. At first, when the Berlin Wall came down, he had felt uneasy. Would the enormous changes mean the carpet would be pulled from under his feet? His East German partners had reassured him. Nothing would change in the foreseeable future. Indeed, this upheaval might even create new opportunities.

The snow was falling more heavily and the wind was veering towards the south-west. He lit a cigarette and poured coffee into the mug in the special holder next to the compass. The heat in the wheelhouse was making him sweat, and the smell of diesel oil was getting up his nose. He glanced towards the engine room. He could see one of Jakobson’s feet on the narrow bunk down there, his big toe sticking out through a hole in his sock. Might as well let him sleep on, he thought. If we have to heave to, he can take over the watch while I get a few hours’ rest. He took a sip of the lukewarm coffee, and thought again of what had happened the night before.

He’d been forced to wait in the dilapidated little harbour to the west of Hiddensee for over five hours before the lorry appeared, rattling through the darkness to collect the goods. Weber had insisted that the delay was due to his lorry breaking down, and that could well have been true. The lorry was an ancient, rebuilt Russian military vehicle, and the man had often been astonished that it was still running. There again, he didn’t trust Weber. Weber had never cheated him, but he’d made up his mind once and for all that he was not be trusted. It was a precautionary measure. After all, the stuff he took to the East Germans was worth a lot. Each time, he took 20 or 30 computers, about 100 mobile phones and just as many car stereos – goods worth millions of kronor. If he got caught, he wouldn’t be able to talk his way out of a long prison sentence. Nor would he be able to count on an ounce of help from Weber. In the world he lived in, everybody thought only about number one.

He checked the course on the compass, and adjusted it by two degrees to the north. The log indicated that he was holding to a steady eight knots. There were 6½ nautical miles to go before he would see the coast and turn towards Brantevik. The greyish-blue waves were still visible ahead, but the snow seemed to be getting heavier.

Five more trips, he thought, and that’s it. I’ll have made all the money I need and I’ll be able to make my move. He lit another cigarette, smiling at the prospect. He would put all this behind him and set off on the journey to Porto Santos, where he’d open a bar. Soon, he’d no longer need to stand on watch in the leaky, draughty wheelhouse while Jakobson snored on his bunk down in the engine room. He couldn’t be sure what his new life would hold, but he longed for it even so.

Abruptly as it had started, it stopped snowing. At first he didn’t dare to believe his luck, but then it became clear that snowflakes were no longer swirling past his eyes. I might be able to make it after all, he thought. Maybe the storm is passing and heading towards Denmark?

Whistling, he poured himself some more coffee. The bag containing the money was hanging on the wall. Another 30,000 kronor closer to Porto Santos, the little island just off Madeira. Paradise was waiting.

He was just about to take another sip of coffee when he caught sight of the dinghy. If the weather hadn’t lifted, he’d never have noticed it. There it was, though, bobbing up and down on the waves, just 50 metres to port. A red rubber life-raft. He wiped the condensation off the glass and peered out at the dinghy. It’s empty, he thought. It’s fallen off a ship. He turned the wheel and slowed right down. Jakobson, woken by the change in speed, stuck his unshaven face up into the wheelhouse.

“Are we there?” he asked.

“There’s a life-raft to port,” said the man at the wheel, whose name was Holmgren. “We’ll have it. It’s worth a thousand or two. Take the wheel and I’ll get the boat-hook.”

Jakobson moved over to the wheel while Holmgren pulled the flaps of his cap down over his ears and left the wheelhouse. The wind bit into his face and he clung to the rail. The dinghy came slowly nearer. He started to unfasten the boat-hook that was attached to the side of the wheelhouse. His fingers froze as he struggled with the catches, but eventually he released it and turned back to the water.

He gave a start. The dinghy was only a few metres away from the boat’s hull, and he realised his mistake. There were two people inside. Dead people. Jakobson shouted something unintelligible from the wheelhouse: he too had seen what was in the life-raft.

It wasn’t the first time Holmgren had seen dead bodies. As a young man doing his military service, a gun had exploded on a manoeuvre, and four of his friends had been blown to bits. Later, during his many years as a professional fisherman, he had seen bodies washed up on beaches or floating in the water.

It struck Holmgren immediately that they were oddly dressed. The two men weren’t fishermen or sailors – they were wearing suits. And they were hugging, as if they’d been trying to protect each other from the inevitable. He tried to imagine what had happened. Who could they be?

Jakobson emerged from the wheelhouse and stood by his side.

“Oh, shit!” he said. “Oh, shit! What are we going to do?”

Holmgren thought for a moment.

“Nothing,” he said. “If we take them on board we’ll only end up with difficult questions to answer. We haven’t seen them, simple as that. It is snowing, after all.”

“Shall we just let ’em drift?” Jakobson asked.

“Yes,” Holmgren answered. “They’re dead after all. There’s nothing we can do. Besides, I don’t want to have to explain where this boat has come from. Do you?”

Jakobson shook his head doubtfully. They stared at the two dead men in silence. Holmgren thought they looked young, hardly more than 30. Their faces were stiff and white. Holmgren shivered.

“Odd that there’s no name on the life-raft,” Jakobson said. “What ship can it have come from?”

Holmgren took the boat-hook and moved the dinghy round, looking at its sides. Jakobson was right: there was no name.

“What the hell can have happened?” he muttered. “Who are they? How long have they been adrift, wearing suits and ties?”

“How far is it to Ystad?” asked Jakobson.

“Just over 6 nautical miles.”

“We could tow them a bit nearer the coast,” said Jakobson, “so that they can drift ashore where they’ll be found.”

Holmgren thought again, weighing up the pros and cons. The idea of leaving them there was repugnant, he couldn’t deny that. At the same time, towing the dinghy would be risky – they might be seen by a ferry or some other vessel.

He made up his mind quickly. He unfastened a painter, leant over the rail and tied it to the life-raft. Jakobson changed course for Ystad, and Holmgren secured the line when the dinghy was about 10 metres behind the boat and free of its wake.

When the Swedish coast came into sight, Holmgren cut the rope and the life-raft with the two dead men inside disappeared far behind. Jakobson changed course to the east, and a few hours later they chugged into the harbour at Brantevik. Jakobson collected his pay, got into his Volvo and drove off towards Svarte.

The harbour was deserted. Holmgren locked the wheelhouse and spread a tarpaulin over the cargo hatch. He checked the hawsers slowly and methodically. Then he picked up the bag containing the money, walked over to his old Ford, and coaxed the reluctant engine to life.

Ordinarily he would have allowed himself to dream of Porto Santos, but today all he could picture in his mind’s eye was the red life-raft. He tried to work out where it would eventually be washed up. The currents in that area were erratic, the wind gusted and shifted direction constantly. The dinghy could wash up anywhere along the coast. Even so, he guessed that it would be somewhere not far from Ystad, if it hadn’t already been spotted by someone on one of the ferries to or from Poland.

It was already starting to get dark as he drove into Ystad. Two men wearing suits, he thought, as he stopped at a red light. In a life-raft. There was something that didn’t add up. Something he’d seen without quite registering it. Just as the lights changed to green, he realised what it was. The two men weren’t in the dinghy as a result of a ship going down. He couldn’t prove it, but he was certain. The two men were already dead when they’d been placed in the dinghy.

On the spur of the moment, he turned right and stopped at one of the phone boxes opposite the bookshop in the square. He rehearsed what he was going to say carefully. Then he dialled 999 and asked for the police. As he waited for them to answer, he watched the snow begin to fall again through the dirty glass of the phone box.

It was 12 February 1991.

CHAPTER 2

INSPECTOR KURT WALLANDER sat in his office at the police station in Ystad and yawned. It was such a huge yawn that one of the muscles under his chin locked. The pain was excruciating. Wallander punched at the underside of his jaw with his right hand to free the muscle. Just as he was doing so, Martinsson, one of the younger officers, walked in. He paused in the doorway, puzzled. Wallander continued to massage his jaw until the pain subsided. Martinsson turned to leave.

“Come on in,” Wallander said. “Haven’t you ever yawned so wide that your jaw muscles locked?”

Martinsson shook his head.

“No,” he said. “I must admit I wondered what you were doing.”

“Now you know,” Wallander said. “What do you want?”

Martinsson made a face and sat down. He had a notebook in his hand.

“We received a strange phone call a few minutes ago,” he said. “I thought I’d better check it with you.”

“We get strange phone calls every day,” Wallander said, wondering why he was being consulted.

“I don’t know what to think,” Martinsson said. “Some man called from a phone box. He claimed that a rubber life-raft containing two dead bodies would be washed up near here. He hung up without giving his name, or saying who’d been killed or why.”

Wallander looked at him in surprise.

“Is that all?” he asked. “Who took the call?”

“I did,” Martinsson said. “He said exactly what I’ve just told you. Somehow or other, he sounded convincing.”

“Convincing?”

“You get to know after a while,” Martinsson replied hesitantly. “Sometimes you can hear straight away that it’s a hoax. This time whoever rang seemed very definite.”

“Two dead men in a rubber life-raft that’s going to be washed up on the coast near here?”

Martinsson nodded.

Wallander stifled another yawn and leaned back in his chair.

“Have we had any reports about a boat sinking or anything like that?” he asked.

“None at all,” Martinsson replied.

“Inform all the other police districts along the coast,” Wallander said. “Talk to the coastguards. But we can’t start a search based on nothing more than an anonymous telephone call. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

Martinsson nodded and stood up.

“I agree,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see.”

“It could get pretty hellish tonight,” Wallander said, nodding towards the window. “Snow.”

“I’m going home now anyway,” Martinsson said, looking at his watch. “Snow or no snow.”

Martinsson left, and Wallander stretched out in his chair. He could feel how tired he was. He’d been forced to answer emergency calls two nights in a row. The first night he’d led the hunt for a suspected rapist who’d barricaded himself in an empty summer cottage at Sandskogen. The man was drugged to the eyeballs and there was reason to think he could be armed, so they’d surrounded the place until 5 a.m., when he’d given himself up. The following night Wallander had been called out to a murder in the town centre. A birthday party had got out of hand, and the man whose birthday it was had been stabbed in the temple with a carving knife.

He got up from his chair and put on his fleece jacket. I’ve got to get some sleep, he thought. Somebody else can look after the snowstorm. When he left the station, the gusts of wind forced him to bend double. He unlocked his Peugeot and scrambled in. The snow that had settled on the windows gave him the feeling of being in a warm, cosy room. He started the engine, inserted a tape, and closed his eyes.

Immediately his thoughts turned to Rydberg. It was less than a month since his old friend and colleague had died of cancer. Wallander had known about the illness the year before, when they were struggling together to solve the murder of an old couple at Lenarp. During the last months of his life, when it was obvious to everybody and not least to Rydberg himself that the end was nigh, Wallander had tried to imagine going to the station knowing that Rydberg wouldn’t be there. How would he manage without the advice and judgement of old Rydberg, who had so much experience? It was still too soon to answer that question. He hadn’t had any difficult cases since Rydberg had gone on sick leave for the last time, and then passed away. But the sense of pain and loss was still very real.

He switched on the windscreen wipers and drove slowly home. The town was deserted, as if people were preparing to be besieged by the approaching snowstorm. He stopped at a petrol station off Österleden, and bought an evening paper. Then he parked outside his flat in Mariagatan and went upstairs. He would take a bath and make something to eat. Before going to bed, he’d phone his father, who lived in a little house near Löderup. Ever since his father had become confused and gone wandering through the night in his pyjamas the year before, Wallander had made a habit of ringing him every day. He knew it was as much for his own sake as for his father’s – he always felt guilty about not visiting him more often. Still, after that incident the year before, his father had a home helper who visited him regularly. This had improved the old man’s moods, which were sometimes unbearable. Even so, Wallander’s conscience pricked him: he felt he didn’t devote enough time to his father.

Wallander had his bath, made an omelette, phoned his father and then went to bed. Before pulling down the roller blinds at his bedroom window, he looked out into the street. A solitary streetlight was swaying in the gusty wind. Snowflakes danced before his eyes. The thermometer read –3°C. Maybe the storm had blown over? He lowered the blinds with a clatter, and crept into bed, falling asleep almost straight away.

The next morning, he was at the station by 7.15 a.m. Apart from a few minor road accidents, the night had been surprisingly quiet. The snowstorm had faded away before it had really got going. He went over to the canteen, greeted a few colleagues on traffic duty who were dozing over their coffee, then took a plastic cup for himself. The moment he’d woken, he’d decided to devote his day to writing up reports from the paperwork piling up on his desk – above all on the assault case involving a gang of Poles. Needless to say, everybody accused everybody else. There were no reliable witnesses to provide an objective version of what had happened, but even so a report had to be written, although he had no illusions about someone being found guilty of breaking someone’s jaw.

At 10.30 a.m. he disposed of the last of the reports, and went for another cup of coffee. On the way back to his office, he heard his telephone ringing. It was Martinsson.

“Remember that life-raft?” he asked.

Wallander had to think for a moment before the penny dropped.

“The man who rang knew what he was talking about. A rubber life-raft with two bodies in it has washed up on the beach at Mossby Strand. It was discovered by a woman walking her dog; she called the station, as hysterical as they come.”

“When did she phone?”

“Just now,” Martinsson said.

Two minutes later Wallander was on his way along the coast road. Peters and Norén were ahead of him in a patrol car, sirens blaring. Wallander shuddered as he saw the freezing breakers slamming onto the beach. He could see an ambulance in his rear-view mirror, and Martinsson in a second police car.

Mossby Strand was deserted. As he clambered out of his car, the icy wind met him head-on. The beach shop was boarded up, and the shutters were creaking and groaning in the wind. High up on the path that sloped down to the beach was a woman waving her arms about agitatedly, the dog beside her tugging at its lead. Wallander strode out, fearful as usual about what was in store for him – he would never be able to reconcile himself to the sight of dead bodies. Dead people were just like the living. Always different.

“Over there,” screeched the woman hysterically. Wallander looked in the direction she was pointing. A red life-raft was bobbing up and down at the water’s edge, where it had become stuck among some rocks by the bathing jetty.

“Wait here,” Wallander told the woman.

He scrambled down the slope and ran over the sand, then walked out along the jetty and looked down into the rubber boat. There were two men, lying with their arms wrapped round each other, their faces ashen. He tried to capture what he saw in a mental photograph. His many years as a police officer had taught him that the first impression was always important. A dead body was generally the end of a long and complicated chain of events, and sometimes it was possible to get an idea of that chain right from the start.

Martinsson waded out into the water to pull the life-raft ashore, wearing gumboots. Wallander squatted down to examine the bodies. He could see Peters trying to calm the woman. It struck him how fortunate they were that the boat hadn’t come ashore in the summer, when there would have been hundreds of children playing and swimming on the beach. What he was looking at was not a pretty sight, and there was the unmistakable stench of rotting flesh despite the fierce wind.

He took a pair of rubber gloves from his jacket and searched the men’s pockets carefully. He found nothing at all. When he opened the jacket of one of the men he could see a liver-coloured stain on the chest of the white shirt. He looked at Martinsson.

“This is no accident,” he said. “It’s murder. This man has been shot straight through the heart.”

He stood up and moved to one side so that Norén could photograph the life-raft.

“What do you reckon?” he asked Martinsson. Martinsson shook his head.

“I don’t know.”

Wallander walked slowly round the boat without taking his eyes off the two dead men. Both were fair-haired, probably in their early 30s. Judging by their hands and clothes, they were not manual labourers. Who were they? Why was there nothing in their pockets? He continued walking round and round the boat, occasionally exchanging a few words with Martinsson. After half an hour he decided that there was nothing more for him to discover. By then the forensic team had begun their methodical examination. A plastic tent had been put up over the rubber boat. Norén had finished taking photographs, everybody was bitterly cold and couldn’t wait to get away. Wallander wondered what Rydberg would have said. What would Rydberg have seen that he’d missed? He sat in his car with the engine running to keep warm. The sea was grey and his head felt empty. Who were these men?

It was several hours before Wallander was able to give the ambulance men the nod, and they moved forward with their stretchers. By then, Wallander was so cold that he couldn’t stop shivering. They had no choice but to break a few bones to release the men from their embrace. When the bodies had been removed, Wallander gave the boat another thorough investigation, but found nothing, not even a paddle. He gazed out to sea, as if the solution was to be found somewhere on the horizon.

“You’d better have a talk with the woman who discovered the life-raft,” he said to Martinsson.

“I’ve done that already,” Martinsson said, surprised.

“A serious talk,” Wallander said. “You can’t talk seriously in this wind. Take her down to the station. Norén must make sure this boat arrives there in the same state it’s in now. Tell him that.”

Then he returned to his car.

This is when I could have done with Rydberg, he said to himself. What is it that I can’t see? What would he have been thinking now?

When he got back to the station in Ystad, he went straight to see Björk, the chief of police, and reported briefly on what he’d seen out at Mossby Strand. Björk listened anxiously. He often seemed to Wallander to consider himself to have been attacked personally whenever a violent crime was committed in his district. At the same time, Wallander respected his boss. He never interfered in the investigations being carried out by his officers, and he was generous with his encouragement when a case seemed to be running out of steam. Sometimes he could be a bit temperamental, but Wallander was used to that.

“I want you to take charge,” Björk said when Wallander had finished. “Martinsson and Hansson can give you some help. I think we can assign several men to this case.”

“Hansson’s busy with that rapist we arrested the other night,” Wallander pointed out. “Wouldn’t it be better to use Svedberg?”

Björk agreed. Wallander got his way, as usual.

As he left Björk’s office, Wallander realised he was hungry. He was prone to put on weight, so he did without lunch, but the dead men in the boat worried him. He drove into town and parked as usual in Stickgatan, then made his way down the narrow, winding streets to Fridolf’s Café. He ordered some sandwiches and drank a glass of milk, going over what had happened in his mind. The previous evening, shortly before 6 p.m., a man had made an anonymous call to the police and warned them of what was to happen. Now they knew he’d been telling the truth. A red rubber life-raft is washed ashore, containing two dead men. At least one of them has been murdered, shot through the heart. There is nothing at all in their pockets to indicate who they are.

That was it.

Wallander took out a pen and scribbled some notes on a paper napkin. He already had a long list of questions that needed answering. All the while, he was conducting a silent conversation with Rydberg. Am I on the right lines, have I overlooked anything? He tried to imagine Rydberg’s answers and reactions. Sometimes he succeeded, but often all he could see was Rydberg’s drawn, haggard face as he lay on his deathbed.

By 3.30 p.m. he was on his way back to the station. He called Martinsson and Svedberg into his office, closed the door and instructed the switchboard to hold his calls.

“This isn’t going to be easy,” he began. “We can only hope the post-mortems and the forensic team’s examination of the life-raft and the clothes come up with something. All the same, there are a few questions I’d like answered straight away.”

Svedberg was leaning against the wall, notebook in hand. He was in his 40s and balding, born in Ystad, and rumour had it that he started feeling homesick the minute he left the town. He often gave the impression of being slow and lacking in interest, but he was thorough, and that was something Wallander appreciated. In many ways Martinsson was the opposite of Svedberg: he was coming up to 30, born in Trollhättan, and had set his sights early on a police career. He was also involved in Liberal Party politics, and according to what Wallander had heard, had a good chance of being elected to the local council in the autumn elections. As a police officer, Martinsson was impulsive and sometimes careless, but he often had good ideas and his ambition meant that he worked tirelessly when he thought he could see a solution to a problem.

“I want to know where this life-raft comes from,” Wallander said. “When we know how long the two men have been dead, we’ll have to try and work out which direction the boat came from, and how far it’s drifted.”

Svedberg stared at him in surprise.

“Will that be possible?” he asked.

“We must get on to the meteorological office,” Wallander said. “They know all there is to know about the weather and the wind. We ought to be able to get a rough idea of where the boat has come from. And I want to know everything we can find out about the life-raft itself. Where it was made, what type of vessels might carry such rafts. Everything.”

He nodded towards Martinsson.

“That’s your job.”

“Shouldn’t we begin by running a computer search to see if the men are listed anywhere as missing?” Martinsson asked.

“You can start by doing that,” Wallander said. “Get in touch with the coastguards, contact all their stations along the south coast. And see what Björk has to say about bringing in Interpol straight away. It’s obvious that if we’re going to trace who they are, we’ll have to cast our nets wide from the very beginning.”

Martinsson nodded and made a note on a sheet of paper. Svedberg chewed thoughtfully on his pencil.

“The forensic team will give the men’s clothes a thorough going over,” Wallander continued. “They must find some clues.”

There was a knock on the door and Norén came in, carrying a rolled-up nautical chart.

“I thought you might need this,” he said.

They spread it out over his desk and pored over it, as if planning a naval battle.

“How fast does a life-raft drift?” Svedberg asked. “Currents and winds can slow it down as well as speed it up.”

They contemplated the chart in silence. Then Wallander rolled it up again and stood it in the corner behind his chair. Nobody had anything to say.

“Let’s get going, then,” he said. “We can meet here again at 6 p.m. and see how far we’ve got.”

As Svedberg and Norén left the room, Wallander asked Martinsson to stay behind.

“What did the woman have to say?” he asked.

Martinsson shrugged.

“Mrs Forsell,” he said. “A widow. Lives in Mossby. She’s a retired teacher from the grammar school in Ängelholm. Lives here all the year round with her dog, Tegnér. Fancy naming a dog after a poet! Every day they go out for some fresh air on the beach. When she walked along the cliffs last night, there was no sign of a life-raft; but it was there this morning. She saw it at about 10.15 a.m., and called us straight away.”

“10.15 a.m.,” Wallander said thoughtfully. “Isn’t that a bit late to be walking a dog?”

Martinsson nodded.

“That occurred to me as well, but it turned out she’d been out at seven o’clock too, but they walked along the beach in the other direction.”

Wallander changed the subject.

“The man who rang yesterday,” he asked, “what did he sound like?”

“Like I said. Convincing.”

“Did he have an accent? Could you tell how old he was?”

“He had a local accent. Like Svedberg’s. His voice was hoarse; I wouldn’t be surprised to find he’s a smoker. In his 40s or 50s, I’d say. He spoke simply and clearly. He could be anything from a bank clerk to a farmer.”

Wallander had one more question.

“Why did he ring?”

“I’ve been wondering that,” Martinsson answered. “He might have known the boat would drift ashore because he’d been mixed up in it himself. He might have been the one who did the shooting. He might have seen something, or heard something. There are several possibilities.”

“What’s the logical explanation?”

“The last one,” Martinsson answered without hesitation. “He saw or heard something. This doesn’t seem to be the type of murder where the killer would choose to set the police on his trail.”

Wallander had come to the same conclusion.

“Let’s go a step further,” he said. “Seen or heard something? Two men dead in a life-raft? If he isn’t involved, he can hardly have seen the murder or murders. That means he must have seen the raft.”

“A life-raft drifting at sea,” Martinsson said. “How do you see something like that? Only by being in a boat yourself.”

“Exactly,” Wallander said. “Precisely. But if he didn’t do it, why does he want to remain anonymous?”

“Some people prefer not to get involved in things,” Martinsson said. “You know how it is.”

“Could be. But there might be another explanation. He might have quite a different reason for not wanting to get mixed up with the police.”

“Isn’t that a bit far-fetched?”

“I’m only thinking aloud,” Wallander said. “Somehow or other we have to trace that man.”

“Shall we send out an appeal for him to get in touch with us again?”

“Yes,” Wallander said. “Not today, though. I want to find out more about the dead men first.”

Wallander drove to the hospital. He’d been there many times, but he still had trouble finding the newly built complex. He paused in the cafeteria on the ground floor and bought a banana, then went upstairs to the pathology department. The pathologist, whose name was Mörth, hadn’t yet started the detailed examination of the corpses. Even so, he was able to answer Wallander’s first question.

“Both men were shot,” he stated. “At close range, through the heart. I assume that is the cause of death.”

“I’d like to see your report as soon as possible,” Wallander said. “Is there anything you can say now about the time of death?”

Mörth shook his head.

“No,” he said. “Mind you, that’s an answer in a way.”

“Meaning what?”

“That they’ve probably been dead for quite a long time. That makes it more difficult to pin down the precise time of death.”

“Two days? Three? A week?”

“I can’t answer that,” Mörth said, “and I don’t want to guess.”

He disappeared into the lab. Wallander took off his jacket, put on a pair of rubber gloves, and started to go through the men’s clothes, which were laid out on what looked like an old-fashioned kitchen sink.

One of the suits was made in England, the other in Belgium. The shoes were Italian, and it seemed to Wallander that they were expensive. Shirts, ties and underwear told the same story: they were good quality, certainly not cheap. When Wallander had finished examining the clothes twice, he realised he was unlikely to get any further. All he knew was that in all probability, the two men were not short of money. But where were the wallets? Wedding rings? Watches? Even more bewildering was the fact that the men had not been wearing their jackets when they were shot. There were no holes or powder burns on them.

Wallander tried to conjure up the scene. Somebody shoots two men straight through the heart. When they’re dead, whoever did it then puts their jackets on before dumping the bodies into a life-raft. Why?

He went through the clothes one more time. There’s something I’m not seeing, he thought. Rydberg, help me.

But Rydberg had nothing to say.

Wallander went back to the police station. He knew the post-mortems would take several hours, and that he wouldn’t get a preliminary report until the next day at the earliest. Back in his office, he found a note on his desk from Björk, saying they should wait another day or so before calling in Interpol. Wallander felt himself getting annoyed: he often found it hard to sympathise with Björk’s cautious approach.

The meeting at 6 p.m. was brief. Martinsson reported that there was no record of any missing persons who could possibly be the men in the life-raft. Svedberg had had a long discussion with someone at the meteorological office in Norrköping who had promised to help the moment he received a formal request from the Ystad police.

Wallander told them that as expected, the pathologist had confirmed that both men had been murdered. He asked Svedberg and Martinsson to consider why someone would have shot two men and then put their jackets back on the bodies.

“Let’s keep going for a few more hours,” Wallander said. “If you’re involved in other cases, either put them on ice for the time being or pass them on to somebody else. This is going to be a tough nut to crack. I’ll see to it that we get some more men first thing tomorrow.”

When Wallander was alone in his office, he unrolled the chart on his desk again. With his finger, he traced the coastline as far as Mossby Strand. The raft could have drifted a long way, he thought. Or no distance at all. It might have been drifting backwards and forwards on the tide.

The phone rang. For a moment he tried to decide whether to answer it: it was late, and he wanted to go home and think about what had happened in peace and quiet. But he lifted the receiver.

It was Mörth.

“Have you finished already?” Wallander asked, surprised.

“No,” Mörth said. “But there’s something I think is important. Something I can let you know now.”

Wallander held his breath.

“The men are not Swedes,” Mörth said. “At least, they weren’t born in Sweden.”

“How can you tell?”

“I’ve had a look at their teeth,” Mörth said. “Their dental work wasn’t done by Swedish dentists. Could have been by Russian ones, though.”

“Russian?”

“Yes. Russian dentists. Or dentists from one of the Eastern bloc countries. They use quite different methods from us.”

“Are you absolutely sure?”

“I wouldn’t have rung otherwise,” Mörth said, and Wallander could tell he was annoyed.

“I believe you,” he said quickly.

“There’s another thing,” Mörth continued. “Something that might be at least as important. These two men were no doubt very relieved when they were shot, if you’ll pardon my cynicism. They’d been tortured pretty comprehensively before they died. Burns, peeled skin, thumb-screws, the whole damned lot.”

Wallander sat in silence.

“Are you still there?” Mörth asked.

“Yes,” Wallander said. “I’m still here. I’m just letting what you said sink in.”

“I’m quite sure about it.”

“I don’t doubt that for a moment. This is a bit out of the ordinary, though.”

“That’s precisely why I thought it was important to phone you.”

“You did the right thing,” Wallander said.

“You’ll get my full report tomorrow,” Mörth said. “Apart from the results of laboratory tests that will take a bit longer.”

He hung up. Wallander went out to the canteen. The room was deserted. He poured out the last drops from the coffee machine, and sat down at one of the tables.

Russians? Men from the Eastern bloc, tortured? Even Rydberg would have thought that this looked like being a difficult and lengthy investigation. It was 7.30 p.m. when he went to his car and drove home. The wind had died down, and it had suddenly become colder.

CHAPTER 3

SHORTLY AFTER 2 a.m. Wallander woke with terrible chest pains. He was convinced that he was about to die. The constant stress and strain of police work was having its effect. He was paying the price. He was motionless in the dark, filled with despair and shame. He had left things too late; he was never going to make anything of his life. His anxiety and pain seemed to grow more and more intense. Afterwards he wasn’t sure how long he’d lain there; unable to control his mounting fear, but slowly he had managed to reassert his self-control.

He got carefully out of bed, pulled on some clothes, and went down to his car. The pain seemed less intense now; it came and went in waves, moving out into his arms, losing something of its initial force. He got into his car, tried to make himself breathe calmly and then drove through the deserted streets to the hospital’s emergency entrance. He encountered a nurse with friendly eyes, who listened to him, and didn’t seem to regard him as a hysterical, rather overweight hypochondriac. Wallander lay on a trolley, listening to a drunk ranting in one of the treatment rooms, the pain coming and going, until suddenly he found a young doctor standing beside him. He described his chest pains once again. His trolley was wheeled into a treatment room and he was wired up to an ECG machine. They took his blood pressure, felt his pulse, and answered various questions: no he didn’t smoke, he hadn’t experienced chest pains before, as far as he knew there was no history of heart disease in his family. The doctor scrutinised the ECG reading.

“Nothing special here,” he said. “Everything seems to be normal. What do you think might have caused this?”

“I have no idea.”

The doctor studied Wallander’s records.

“You’re a police officer, I see,” he said. “I imagine things can get a bit hectic at work now and then.”

“It’s like that more or less all the time.”

“What about your alcohol intake?”

“I like to think it’s normal.”

The doctor sat down on the edge of a table and put down the record cards. Wallander could see that he was very tired.

“I don’t think you’ve had a heart attack,” he said. “It might be your body sounding the alarm, announcing that everything isn’t as it should be. You’re the only one who can know about this.”

“That’s probably it,” Wallander said. “I ask myself every day what my life is doing to me. And I realise I don’t have anybody I can talk to.”

“You should have,” said the doctor. “Everybody should.”

He stood up when his pager started peeping like a fledgling in his pocket.

“I’m going to keep you in overnight,” he said. “Try to get some rest.”

Wallander lay there quite peacefully, listening to the hum of an invisible air conditioning fan. He could hear voices in the corridor.

All pain has a cause, he thought. If it isn’t my heart, what is it? The guilt I have at failing to devote enough time and energy to my father? Worry because I suspect the letters my daughter sends me from university in Stockholm don’t tell the full story? That things are not at all as she describes them, when she says she likes it there, and is working, and feels that at last she’s doing something she wants to be doing? Could it be that although I’m not conscious of it, I’m constantly afraid she’s going to try to take her own life again, as she did when she was 15? Or is the pain due to the jealousy I still feel at Mona leaving me, even though that was a year ago now?

The light in the room seemed very bright. He felt that his whole life was characterised by a sense of desolation that he simply couldn’t shake off. How could the kind of pain he’d just been feeling be caused by loneliness? He couldn’t come up with any solution that didn’t immediately fill him with doubt.

“I can’t go on living like this,” he said out loud. “I’ve got to get my life sorted out. Soon. Now.”

He woke up with a start at 6 a.m. The doctor was standing by his bed, watching him.

“No more pain?” he asked.

“Everything feels OK,” Wallander said. “What can it have been?”

“Tension,” the doctor said. “Stress. You know best yourself.”

“Yes,” Wallander said. “I suppose I do.”

“I think you should have a thorough examination,” the doctor said. “If nothing else, we need to be sure there’s nothing physically wrong with you. It will make it easier for you to look inside your own head and see what kind of shadows are lurking there.”

Wallander drove home, took a shower, and had a cup of coffee. The thermometer read –3°C. The sky had cleared, and the wind had dropped. He sat there for a long time, thinking about the previous night. The pains and his stay in the hospital had taken on an air of unreality. But he knew he couldn’t just ignore what had happened. His life was his own responsibility.

It was 8.15 a.m. before he felt he could face work.

As soon as he got to the station, he became embroiled in an argument with Björk, who was insisting that the forensic squad in Stockholm should have been brought in at once to make a thorough investigation at the scene of the crime.

“There was no scene of the crime,” Wallander said. “If there’s one thing we can be sure about, it’s that the men were not murdered in that life-raft.”

“Now we don’t have Rydberg to rely on, we need outside help,” Björk said. “We don’t have the expertise. Why didn’t you close off the beach where the life-raft was found?”

“The beach wasn’t where the crime was committed. The raft had been drifting at sea. Are you suggesting that we should have fixed a plastic ribbon round the waves?”

Wallander was getting angry. True, neither he nor any other of the officers in Ystad had Rydberg’s experience, but that didn’t mean he was incapable of deciding when to call in assistance from Stockholm.

“Either you let me make the decisions,” he said, “or you run the case yourself.”

“There’s no question of that,” Björk said, “but I still think it was an error of judgement not to consult Stockholm.”

“Well, I don’t.”

That was as far as they could go.

“I’ll come and see you shortly,” said Wallander. “I’ve got some stuff I’d like your opinion on.”

Björk looked surprised.

“Have we got something to go on?” he asked. “I thought we were up against a brick wall.”

“Not quite. I’ll be with you in 10 minutes.”

He went back to his office, rang the hospital, and was astonished to get straight through to Mörth.

“Anything new?” he asked the pathologist.

“I’m just writing my report,” Mörth answered. “Can’t you wait another couple of hours?”

“I have to put Björk in the picture. Can you at least say how long they’ve been dead?”

“No. We have to wait for the results of the lab tests. Stomach content, extent of cell tissue decay. I can only guess.”

“Do it.”

“I don’t like guessing, you know that. What good will it do you?”

“You’re experienced. You know what you’re doing. The test results will only confirm what you suspect already, they won’t contradict them. I only want you to whisper in my ear. I won’t pass it on.”

Wallander waited.

“A week,” Mörth said finally. “At least a week. But don’t tell anybody I said that.”

“I’ve forgotten it already. You’re still certain they’re Russian or East European?”

“Yes.”

“Did you find anything you didn’t expect?”

“I don’t know anything about ammunition, of course, but I’ve never come across this type of bullet before.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes. One of the men has a tattoo on his upper arm. It’s a sort of sabre. Some kind of Turkish scimitar, or whatever they’re called.”

“A what?”

“It’s a sword. You can’t expect a pathologist to be an expert on obsolete weaponry.”

“Does it say anything?”

“What do you mean?”

“Tattoos usually have some inscription. A woman’s name, or a place.”

“There’s no inscription.”

“Nothing else?”

“Not at the moment.”

“OK, thanks for all this anyway.”

“It wasn’t very much.”

Wallander hung up, fetched himself a cup of coffee and went to see Björk. The doors of Martinsson’s and Svedberg’s offices were open, but neither of them was there. He sat down and drank his coffee, listening absentmindedly as Björk finished a phone conversation, which seemed to be getting rather heated. He jumped as Björk slammed down the phone.

“That was the damnedest thing I’ve ever heard,” Björk said. “What’s the point of carrying on?”

“A good question,” Wallander said, “but I’m not sure what you’re referring to.”

Björk was shaking with anger. Wallander couldn’t remember ever having seen him like this.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

Björk looked at him. “I don’t know if I’m supposed to say anything about it,” he said, “but I really have to. One of those bastards who murdered the old couple in Lenarp, the one we called Lucia, was let out on leave the other day. Needless to say, he never went back. Presumably he’s fled the country. We’ll never catch him again.”

Wallander couldn’t believe his ears.

“Leave? He hasn’t even been inside for a year yet, and that was one of the most brutal killings we’ve seen in this country. How the hell could they let him out on leave?”

“He was going to his mother’s funeral.”

Wallander’s jaw dropped.

“But his mother’s been dead for ten years! I remember that from the report the Czech police sent us.”

“A woman claiming to be his sister turned up at Hall Prison, pleading for him to be let out to attend the funeral. Nobody seems to have checked anything. She had a printed card saying there was going to be a funeral in a church at Ängelholm – obviously a forgery. There still seems to be some souls in this country naïve enough to believe that no one would forge a funeral invitation. They let him go with a warder. That was the day before yesterday. There was no funeral, nor was there a dead mother, no sister. They overpowered the guard, tied him up and dumped him in some woods near Jönköping. They even drove the prison commissioner’s car to Kastrup Airport via Limhamn. It’s still there, but they aren’t.”

“This just isn’t true,” Wallander said. “Who in hell’s name could give a crook like that leave?”

“Like the adverts say: Sweden is fantastic,” Björk said. “It makes me sick.”

“Whose responsibility is it? Whoever gave him leave should be locked up in the cell he’s left empty. How is a thing like that possible?”

“I’ll look into it,” Björk said. “But that’s the way it is. The bird has flown.”

Wallander’s mind went back to the unimaginably savage murder of the old couple in Lenarp. He looked up at Björk in resignation.

“What’s the point?” he wondered. “Why do we bust ourselves to catch criminals if all the prison service does is let them go again?”

Björk didn’t answer. Wallander stood up and went over to the window.

“How much longer can we keep going?” he asked.