The Return of the Dancing Master (8 page)

BOOK: The Return of the Dancing Master
A thought struck him. He went back to the bedroom and looked in the wardrobe. No police uniform. So Molin seemed to have gotten rid of it. Most retired police officers kept their uniforms.
He went back to the living room, and from that into the kitchen. All the time he was trying hard to imagine Molin walking at his side. A
lonely man of about seventy-five. Getting up in the morning, making meals, getting through the day. A man is always doing something, it seemed to him. The same must have applied to Molin. Nobody just sits on a chair all day. Even the most passive of people do something. But what had Molin done? How had he spent his days? He went back to the living room and scrutinized the floor. Next to one of the bloodstained footprints was a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. There were other pieces strewn over the floor. He stood up, and felt a shooting pain in his back. The cancer, he thought. Or had he just slept awkwardly in his car last night? He waited until the pain had gone. Then he went over to the bookcase with the CD player. Bent down and opened a cabinet. It was full of boxes that he thought at first contained various games. He took out the top one, and saw that it was a jigsaw puzzle. He looked at the picture on the front of the box. A painting by an artist called Matisse. Had he heard that name before, perhaps? He wasn't sure. The subject was a large garden, with two women dressed in white in the background. He turned to the rest of the pile. Nearly all of them were based on paintings. Big puzzles with lots of pieces. He opened the next cabinet. That was full of jigsaw puzzles too, none of them opened. He stood up gingerly, afraid that the pain might return. So Molin spent a lot of his time doing jigsaw puzzles, he thought. Odd. But then again, maybe no odder than his own hobby, collecting pointless press clippings about the Elfsborg football club.
He looked around the room again. It was so quiet he could hear his own pulse beating. He really ought to get in touch with the Ostersund police officer with the unusual first name. Maybe he should drive there on Monday and have a talk with him? Then again, the murder investigation had nothing to do with him. He had better be quite clear about that. He hadn't come to Harjedalen to carry out some kind of private investigation into who had killed Herbert Molin. No doubt there was a straightforward explanation. There generally was. Murder nearly always had something to do with money or revenge. Alcohol was generally involved. And the culprit usually came from a circle of close contacts—family and friends.
It could be that Larsson and his colleagues had pinpointed a motive already and been able to point the finger at a possible suspect. Why not?
Lindman took another look around. Asked himself what the room had to say about what had happened in it. But he heard no answers. He looked at the bloodstained footprints. They formed a pattern. What surprised him was that they were so clear, suggesting they'd been put
there in that form intentionally, and were not the accidental traces of a struggle or the staggering steps of a dying man. He wondered what the forensic team and Giuseppe Larsson had made of that.
Then he walked over to the big broken window in the living room. Stopped in his tracks, and ducked down. There was a man standing outside. Holding a rifle. Motionless, staring straight at the window.
Chapter Five
indman had no time to be afraid. When he saw the man with the gun outside, he took a step back and crouched by the side of the window. At once he heard a key in the front door lock. If he had thought for a second that the man outside was the murderer, he shed it now. The man who had killed Molin would hardly have his frontdoor key.
The door opened. The man paused in the entrance to the living room. He was holding the gun pointing down at his side. Lindman saw that it was a shotgun.
“There's not supposed to be anybody here,” the man said. “But there is.”
He spoke slowly and distinctly, but not like the girl at the hotel reception desk. His dialect was different. Lindman couldn't tell what it was.
“I knew the dead man.”
The stranger nodded. “I believe you,” he said. “I just wonder who you are.”
“Herbert Molin and I worked together for several years. He was a police officer, and I still am.”
“That's about all I know about Herbert,” said the man. “That he'd been a police officer.”
“Who are you?” The man gestured to Lindman, suggesting that they should go outside. He nodded towards the empty dog pen. “I think I knew Shaka better than I knew Herbert,” he said. “Nobody knew Herbert.”
Lindman looked at the dog pen, then at the man. He was bald, in his
sixties, tall, thin, and dressed in bib overalls, a jacket, and rubber boots. He turned his gaze from the dog pen and looked at Lindman.
“You wonder who I am,” he said. “Why I have a key. And a shotgun.”
Lindman nodded.
“In these parts distances are long. I don't suppose you met many cars on the way here. I bet you didn't see many people either. I live about ten kilometers away, but even so I was one of Herbert's nearest neighbors.”
“What sort of work do you do?”
The man smiled. “Isn't it usual to ask a man first his name,” he said, “and then what he does?”
“My name's Stefan Lindman, police officer in BorÃ¥s. Where Herbert used to work.”
“Abraham Andersson. But around here they call me Dunkarr, because I live at a farm called Dunkarret.”
“So are you a farmer?”
The man laughed and spat into the gravel. “No,” he said. “I don't care for agriculture. Nor forestry. Well, I go into the forest, but not to cut down trees. I play the violin. I was in the symphony orchestra in Helsingborg for twenty years. Then one day I simply felt I'd had enough. And moved up here. I still play sometimes. Mostly to keep my fingers moving. Old violinists can have problems with their joints if they stop just like that. In fact, that was how I met Herbert.”
“How so?”
“I take my violin into the forest. I settle down where the trees are densest. The violin sounds different there. At other times I go up a mountain, or to a lakeside. The sound is always different. After all those years in a concert hall it's as if I've got a new instrument in my hands.” He pointed at the lake that was just visible through the trees. “I was standing down there, playing away. Mendelssohn's violin concerto, I think it was, the second movement. Then Herbert appeared with his dog. Wondered what the hell was going on. I can understand him. Who expects to find an old fellow in a forest playing a violin? Plus he was upset because I was trespassing on his land. But we became friends after that. Or whatever you would call it.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I don't suppose anybody became a friend of Herbert's.”
“He bought this house in order to be in peace. But you can't entirely
cut yourself off from other people. After a year or so, he told me that there was a spare key on a hook in the shed. I don't know why.”
“But you used to see a little of each other socially?”
“No. He let me play down by the lake whenever I wanted. To tell you the truth, I never set foot in this house before today. He never came around to visit me either.”
“Was there anybody else who visited him?”
The man's reaction was almost imperceptible, but Lindman noticed the slight hesitation before he answered. “Not as far as I know.”
So he did have visitors, Lindman thought. But he said: “So, in other words, you're a retiree as well. And you've hidden yourself away in the forest, just like Herbert.”
The man started laughing again. “Not at all,” he said. “I'm not a retiree, and I haven't hidden myself away in the forest. I write a little bit for a few dance bands.”
“Dance bands?”
“The occasional song. Light hearts, broken hearts. Mostly crap, but I've had some hits. Not as Abraham Andersson, of course. I use what's known as a pseudonym.”
“What do you call yourself?”
“Siv Nilsson.”
“A woman's name?”
“I once knew a girl at school I was in love with. It was her name. I thought it was a rather nice way of declaring my affection for her.”
Lindman wondered if Andersson was pulling his leg, but decided that he was telling the truth. He looked at the man's hands. His fingers were long and slim. He could indeed be a violinist.
“You have to ask yourself what on earth happened here,” the man said. “Who could have come out here and finished Herbert off. The place has been crawling with police until yesterday. There have been folks coming in helicopters and roaming around with dogs, police knocking on doors for miles around. But nobody knows a thing.”
“Nobody. Herbert came here from somewhere else and wanted to be left in peace. But somebody didn't want to leave him in peace, and now he's dead.”
“When did you last see him?”
“You're asking the same questions as the police.”
“I am the police.”
Andersson looked at him quizzically. “But you're not from the local police. That means you can't be on the case.”
“I knew Herbert. I'm on vacation. I came here.”
Andersson nodded, but Lindman was sure he hadn't been believed.
“I leave here for one week every month. I go to Helsingborg to see my wife. It's odd that it should happen when I wasn't here.”
“Because I never go away at the same time. It could be in the middle of a month from Sunday until the following Saturday, but it might just as easily be from Wednesday to Tuesday. Never the same. And yet it happens when I'm away.”
Lindman thought that over. “So you think that somebody was keeping watch and made his move when you weren't around?”
“I don't think anything. I'm just saying that it's odd. I'm probably the only one who wanders around here. Apart from Herbert.”
“What do you think happened?”
“I don't know. I have to go now.”
Lindman walked him to his car, which was parked at the bottom of the slope. He could see a violin case in the back seat.
“Where did you say you lived?” he said. “Dunkarret?”
“Just this side of Glöte. Keep going when you get there. About six kilometers. There's a sign pointing to the left. Dunkarret. 2.”
Andersson got into the car. “You have to catch whoever did this,” he said. “Herbert was an oddball, but harmless. Whoever killed him must have been insane.”
Lindman watched the car drive off, standing there until the sound of the engine had died away. It struck him that sound travels a long way in a forest. Then he went back to the house and along the path that led to the lake. All the time he was pondering what Andersson had said. Nobody knew Molin. But somebody had paid him visits. Andersson hadn't been prepared to say who, however. And the murder had taken place when Andersson wasn't in the vicinity, always assuming that Dunkarret could be counted as in the vicinity. Lindman paused to think. That could only mean one thing. Andersson must suspect that whoever killed Molin knew that Andersson was away, and that in turn could mean only two things: either the murderer was local, or he'd been keeping watch on Molin for a considerable period of time—at least a month, possibly longer.
He came to the lake. It was bigger than he'd expected. The water was brown, with only a very few gentle ripples. He squatted down and
dipped his hand in. It was cold. He stood up and suddenly saw Boras Hospital in his mind's eye. It was several hours since he'd last thought about what was in store for him. He sat on a rock and gazed over the lake. Wooded ridges stretched away into the distance on the other side, and he could hear a power saw somewhere a long way off. I have no business being here, he thought. Molin might have had a reason for coming up north to the gigantic forests and the silence, but I haven't. On the contrary, I should be preparing myself for what's going to happen. My doctor has given me a good chance of surviving. I'm still young, and I'm strong, but the bottom line is that nobody can know for sure whether I'm going to make it or not.
He started along the shore. When he turned to look, he could no longer see the house. He was alone in the world now. He continued along the stony shore and eventually came to a rotting rowboat that had been beached. In the decaying remains was an anthill. He kept on walking, with no direction in mind, until he came to an opening in the trees, and sat down again, this time on a fallen tree trunk. The ground seemed to be well-trodden. He noticed some cuts on the trunk that could only have been made by a knife. Perhaps Molin used to come here, he thought vaguely. Between jigsaw puzzles. Maybe he brought his dog with him? What was its name? Shaka? An odd name for a dog.
His mind was a complete blank. The only thing he could see was the road ahead, the long road he'd driven from Boras to get here. Then something intruded, spoiling the image. Something he should give thought to. He knew what it was. Something that had just occurred to him: that perhaps Molin came here with his dog.
It could have been somebody else, he thought. Somebody else sitting here. He started to look around, more attentively this time. The site had been cleared. Somebody had removed the undergrowth and leveled the ground. He got up from his tree trunk and squatted in the middle of the leveled area. It wasn't big, hardly more than twenty square meters, but pretty well shielded from view. Fallen trees and some large rocks made it more or less impossible to get there unless one came at it from the water's edge. He looked hard at the ground. If he screwed up his eyes, he could just make out a faint shape in the moss. A square. He felt with his fingers in the four corners. There were holes there. He stood up. A tent, he thought. Unless I'm totally mistaken, there was a tent pitched here. No way of knowing how long ago, but it must have been this year, otherwise the snow would have obliterated all the marks.
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