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Authors: Henning Mankell

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An Event in Autumn: A Kurt Wallander Mystery

BOOK: An Event in Autumn: A Kurt Wallander Mystery
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Henning Mankell

AN EVENT IN AUTUMN

Henning Mankell’s novels have been translated into forty languages and have sold more than forty million copies worldwide. He is the first winner of the Ripper Award (the new European prize for crime fiction) and has also received the Glass Key and Golden Dagger awards. His Kurt Wallander mysteries have been adapted into a PBS television series starring Kenneth Branagh. Mankell divides his time between Sweden and Mozambique.

www.henningmankell.com

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

THE SHADOW GIRLS

A TREACHEROUS PARADISE

Nonfiction

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

A VINTAGE CRIME/BLACK LIZARD ORIGINAL, AUGUST
2014

Translation © 2013 by Laurie Thompson

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House company, New York. Originally published in Sweden as
Handen
, published by Leopard förlag, Stockholm, 2013. Copyright © 2013 by Henning Mankell.

Vintage is a registered trademark and Vintage Crime/Black Lizard and colophon are trademarks of Random House LLC.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress.

Vintage Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8041-7064-2
eBook ISBN: 978-0-8041-7065-9

www.vintagebooks.com

www.henningmankell.com

v3.1

Contents
CHAPTER 1

On Saturday, October 26, 2002, Kurt Wallander woke up feeling very tired. It had been a trying week, as a severe cold had infected practically everybody in the Ystad police station. Wallander was usually the first to catch such viruses, but for some strange reason on this occasion he had been one of the few who did not fall ill. Since there had been a serious rape case in Svarte and several cases of GBH in Ystad during the week, Wallander had been forced to work long and strenuous hours.

He had remained at his desk until the early hours. He had been too exhausted to work, but at the same time he had no desire to go home to his apartment in Mariagatan. A squally wind was blowing hard outside the police station. Occasionally someone would walk along
the corridor past his office, but Wallander hoped nobody would knock on his door. He wanted to be left in peace.

In peace from what? he asked himself. Perhaps what I want most of all is not to have to think about myself. About the increasing feeling of repugnance I’m carrying around inside myself and which I don’t discuss with anybody else at all.

Autumn leaves swirled against the window of his office. He wondered if he ought to take some of the holiday owed to him and try to find a cheap package trip to Mallorca or some similar place. But he stopped short of making any such decision—even if the sun was shining down on a Spanish island, he would be unable to be at peace with himself.

He looked at his desk calendar. It was 2002. October. He had been a police officer for over thirty years, and had progressed from a probationer patrolling the streets of Malmö to become an experienced and respected detective who had successfully solved numerous difficult cases of serious crime. Even if he could not be pleased with his life as a human being, he could be pleased with his performance as a police officer. He had done his job well, and perhaps helped people to feel more secure.

A car in the street outside roared past at full speed, tires screaming. A young man at the wheel, Wallander thought. He is no doubt well aware that he is driving past the police station. His intention is to irritate us, of course. But he can’t do that to me. Not anymore.

Wallander went out into the corridor. It was empty. He could hear faint sounds of laughter from behind a closed door. He went to fetch a cup of tea, then returned to his office.

The tea tasted odd. When he looked at the bag he realized that he had taken one tasting of sweet jasmine. He didn’t like it, threw the bag into the wastepaper basket and poured the drink into a plant pot containing an orchid given to him by his daughter Linda.

It suddenly struck him how everything had changed during his many years as a police officer. When he had first started to patrol the streets there was a big difference between what happened in a city like Malmö and in small towns like Ystad. But nowadays there was hardly any difference at all. This was especially true for all the crimes connected with drugs. During his early days in Ystad a lot of drug addicts went to Copenhagen in order to obtain certain types of narcotic. Now you could buy everything in Ystad. He knew that there had also been an explosion in drug trafficking over the Internet.

Wallander often talked to his colleagues about how it had become so much more difficult to be a police officer in recent years. But now, as he sat in his office and watched the autumn leaves sticking onto the windowpane, he suddenly wondered if that were really true. Was that just an excuse? To avoid thinking about how society had changed, and hence also criminality?

Nobody has ever accused me of being lazy, Wallander
thought. But perhaps that’s what I am, despite everything. Or am becoming so.

He stood up, put on the jacket that had been draped over his visitor chair, and left the office. His thoughts remained inside the room, the questions unanswered.

He drove home through the dark streets. Rainwater was glistening on the asphalt. His head was suddenly empty.

He had the next day off. Half asleep, he heard the distant ring of the telephone in the kitchen. His daughter Linda, who had started work as a police officer in Ystad the previous autumn, after finishing her training at the police college in Stockholm, was still living in his apartment. She should really have moved out by now, but had not yet received a contract for the apartment she had been promised. He heard her answer, and was relieved that he wouldn’t need to bother about it. Martinson had recovered and been on duty since the previous day, and he had promised not to disturb Wallander.

Nobody else ever phoned him, especially not early on a Sunday morning. On the other hand, Linda spent ages every day on her cell phone. He had sometimes wondered about that. His own relationship with telephones was quite complicated. He felt put out whenever a phone rang. He guessed it was a sign of the simple truth that they belonged to different generations.

The bedroom door opened. He gave a start and became angry.

“Shouldn’t you knock?”

“It’s only me.”

“What would you say if I flung open the door of your room without knocking?”

“I keep my door locked. You’re wanted on the phone.”

“Nobody ever rings me.”

“But someone has.”

“Who?”

“Martinson.”

Wallander sat up in bed. Linda looked disapprovingly at his bare stomach, but said nothing. It was Sunday. They had made an agreement to the effect that for as long as she lived in his apartment, Sundays would be an exclusion zone in which neither of them was allowed to criticize the other. Sunday was proclaimed a day reserved for friendliness.

“What did he want?”

“He didn’t say.”

“Today is my day off.”

“I don’t know what he wants.”

“Can’t you tell him I’m out?”

“For God’s sake!”

She left him and returned to her own room. Wallander shuffled out into the kitchen and picked up the telephone receiver. He could see through the window that it was
raining, but the clouds were scattered and he could detect traces of blue sky.

“I thought today was supposed to be my day off!”

“So it is,” said Martinson.

“What’s happened?”

“Nothing.”

Wallander noticed that he was becoming irritated again. Was Martinson ringing without any specific reason? That wasn’t like him.

“Why are you ringing? I was asleep.”

“Why do you sound so angry?”

“Because I
am
angry.”

“I think I might have a house for you. Out in the countryside. Not so far from Löderup.”

For many years Wallander had been thinking that it was high time he moved from his flat in central Ystad. He wanted to get out into the countryside, he wanted to acquire a dog. Since his father had died several years ago and Linda had flown the nest, he had felt an increasing need to change the circumstances of his own life. On several occasions he had been to view houses that real estate agents had on offer, but he had never found one to fulfill his requirements. Sometimes he had felt that the house was more or less right, but the price was out of his reach. His salary and his savings were inadequate. Being a police officer meant that a fat bank account was just not possible.

“Are you still there?”

“Yes, I’m still here. Tell me more.”

“I can’t just now. It seems there’s been a break-in at the Åhléns supermarket last night. But if you drop by the station I can tell you about it. And I can let you have some keys.”

Martinson hung up. Linda came into the kitchen and poured a cup of coffee. She looked inquiringly at her dad, then poured one for him as well. They sat down at the kitchen table.

“Do you have to work?”

“No.”

“What did he want, then?”

“He wanted to show me a house.”

“But he lives in a terraced house. You want to live out in the countryside, don’t you?”

“You’re not listening to what I say. He wants to show me a house. Not
his
house.”

“What kind of a house?”

“I’ve no idea. Do you want to come with me?”

She shook her head. “No, I have other plans.”

He didn’t ask her what those plans were. He knew that she was the same as he was. She explained no more than was necessary. A question that wasn’t asked was a question that didn’t need an answer.

BOOK: An Event in Autumn: A Kurt Wallander Mystery
10.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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