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Authors: Hakan Nesser

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‘Order or chaos,’ said Mikael, picking up an empty scrunched-up Coca-Cola can somebody had dropped a couple of metres away from one of the green-painted rubbish bins the local
council had provided at regular intervals all the way along the beach. ‘And the relationship between them . . . Yes, it sounds very plausible. We’ve talked about this before. But in any
case, the accusation itself from Lampe-Leermann sounds carefully planned, doesn’t it?’

‘Without a doubt,’ said Moreno with a sigh. ‘Without a doubt. He’s expecting a concrete offer in exchange for the name of his bloody hack. The more I think about it, the
more I feel sure that there must be an informant, and that there must be some truth in it. Unfortunately.’

‘Why do you think that?’

‘Because that’s the way negotiations work. Even a nasty creep like Lampe-Leermann must realize that. If we were to give him some assurances, we’d only need to cancel them if he
turned out to be bluffing. He simply can’t dictate whatever terms he likes.’

Mikael thought that over as they walked across the dunes and the spiky roof of Tschandala came into view.

‘But what if he wants ready cash? He’d be able to get you to cough up a suitable sum – and wouldn’t it be difficult to get that back if it was already in a bank account
somewhere? Or hidden away in a mattress?’

‘True,’ said Moreno. ‘At least, I assume so. In any case, it’s not my problem. I must make sure I pass the buck. I’m supposed to be on holiday, after all. Enjoying
peace and quiet by the seaside with my talented young lover.’

‘Dead right,’ Mikael grunted as he hugged her tightly. ‘Give them a bell the moment we cross over the doorstep and hand the case over to whoever is on duty.’

‘Hmm,’ said Moreno. ‘I think I’ll wait until tomorrow.’

‘Tomorrow?’ said Mikael. ‘Why?’

‘I have to work out who I’m going to talk to.’

He thought about that for three seconds.

‘Aha,’ he said. ‘Yes, I see your point. A bit tricky?’

‘Yes,’ said Moreno. ‘A bit tricky.’

She woke up at half past two. Spent twenty minutes trying to go back to sleep, then slipped quietly out of bed and sat down at the large circular kitchen table with a sheet of
paper and a pencil.

She wrote down the names one by one, as they occurred to her.

Intendent Münster

Chief Inspector Reinhart

Inspector Rooth

Inspector Jung

Intendent deBries

Constable Krause

Those were her closest colleagues. The ones she worked with more or less every day.

The ones she’d known inside out for the last six or seven years.

Inside out? Was it possible that one of them . . . ?

She could feel that question sticking in her throat, in a physical way. When she tried to swallow, she couldn’t.

She abandoned the thought and continued with her list, wondering why she had bothered to give them all their ranks. Would rank be relevant in a case like this?

Intendent le Houde

Sergeant Bollmert

And then the others, not actually members of the CID, but she’d better name them even so.

Joensuu

Kellermann

Paretsky

Klempje

She leaned back and contemplated the list. Twelve names in all. She couldn’t think of any more. Heinemann had retired. Van Veeteren had quit.

Who? she thought. Who could possibly . . . ?

That question floated around in her consciousness for several minutes. Then she tried another angle.

Who? Who shall I ring?

Which of these men do I trust most?

While she tried to sort out the answer to that problem, the clock indicated a quarter past three, then half past, and she just felt more and more sick.

12

13 July 1999

‘He’s busy,’ said Constable Vegesack for the third time. ‘Can’t you understand what I’m saying? Either you sit down and wait, or tell
me what it’s all about.’

The woman shook her head in irritation and flung her hands out wide. Steadied herself in order to demand once again to talk to the chief of police – that’s what it looked like, at
least – but changed her mind. Breathed out audibly through gritted teeth instead.

Forty, perhaps slightly more, Vegesack decided. Well built without being fat. Looks pretty healthy, in fact . . . Short, dark red hair, certainly dyed.

Jittery.

Devilish jittery. It was impossible to persuade her to sit down. She strode back and forth around the room like a dachshund in need of a pee. Constable Vegesack had grown up with a dachshund, so
he knew exactly what that meant.

‘Could you perhaps give me some indication of what it is you want?’ he said. ‘Maybe we could start with your name.’

She paused. Held her arms by her sides, fists clenched, and eyed him up and down. His left hand shot up automatically and adjusted the knot of his tie.

‘Sigrid Lijphart,’ she said. ‘My name’s Sigrid Lijphart, and I’m looking for my daughter Mikaela. She’s been missing since Saturday.’

Vegesack noted the information down.

‘Do you live here in Lejnice? I don’t think I’ve—’

‘No,’ she said, interrupting him. ‘I don’t live here. But I did do sixteen years ago. The chief of police knows all about why I had to move away. That’s why I want
to talk to him, instead of having to go through a mass of stuff that I can barely cope with even thinking about. Damn it all . . . !’

She flopped down on a chair, and he saw that she had tears in her eyes.

‘I see,’ he said. ‘But I’m afraid that Chief of Police Vrommel isn’t even in the station . . .’ He glanced at his watch. ‘He’s at the Cafe
Vronskij with an inspector who’s come here from Maardam. He should be back any minute now, so the best plan is simply for you to wait. If you don’t want to tell me all about it, that
is. Would you like something to drink?’

Fru Lijphart shook her head. Took a handkerchief out of her handbag and blew her nose.

‘How old?’ Vegesack asked. ‘Your daughter, I mean.’

The woman seemed to be debating with herself whether or not to answer. Then she shrugged and sighed deeply.

‘Eighteen. She celebrated her eighteenth birthday on Friday. She came here to meet her father, but she hasn’t come back. We live in Moorhuijs . . . Something must have happened to
her.’

Vegesack made more notes:
Father? Moorhuijs? Something happened?

‘Why do you think something’s happened to her? Have you been in touch with her father? I assume you’re divorced?’

Mikaela. 18
, he added.

‘We most certainly are,’ said fru Lijphart after another long exhalation through gritted teeth. ‘No, I haven’t been in contact with him. He’s in the Sidonis
Foundation care home, if you know where that is.’

‘Oh dear,’ said Constable Vegesack before he could stop himself. ‘I understand.’

‘Do you?’

‘Yes. Well . . . no, not really.’

This isn’t going very well, he thought, adjusting the knot of his tie again. Wrote down
Sidonis
in his notebook and avoided looking her in the eye.

‘She hasn’t rung,’ said the woman. ‘Mikaela would never leave it this long without ringing, I know that for a fact. Something’s happened to her, and it’s your
bloody lot’s responsibility to find her and make sure she comes back home.’

‘Could you perhaps say a bit more about . . . about the background? While we’re waiting for Vrommel. Instead of just sitting around.’

‘Vrommel,’ snorted fru Lijphart, standing up again. She started pacing aimlessly back and forth in front of Vegesack’s desk, reminding him of a mentally deranged polar bear
he’d once seen at Aarlach zoo.

As an alternative to the dachshund.

‘You mustn’t think I’ve got much time for your boss,’ said fru Lijphart, standing still for a change. ‘But it’s still the police we turn to when we suspect a
crime has been committed, isn’t it?’

‘A crime?’ said Vegesack. ‘What sort of crime?’

‘Bloody hell!’ groaned fru Lijphart, dropping her hands down by her sides again. ‘Is this what we pay our taxes for, for Christ’s sake? I think I’m going out of my
mind.’

Vegesack swallowed and tried desperately to think of something to say that would calm things down, but was spared the trouble. The glass door slammed shut, and a few seconds later in came the
chief of police with the woman from Maardam, the detective inspector. Moreno. She was pretty good-looking, that’s for sure. Sigrid Lijphart opened her handbag, then shut it again. The
constable stood up.

‘Ah,’ he said. ‘May I introduce Chief of Police Vrommel, Inspector Moreno . . . fru Lijphart. But you’ve met already, of course. You two, I mean . . .’

He blushed, and gestured towards Vrommel and fru Lijphart.

‘Good morning,’ said Vrommel. ‘What’s this all about, then?’

‘Fru Lijphart has a little problem,’ explained Vegesack. ‘She says her daughter has gone missing.’

‘I expect you remember me,’ said Sigrid Lijphart, glaring at Vrommel.

‘What did you say your name was?’ asked Moreno. ‘Lijphart?’

Later – during the weeks that followed and during the autumn when everything had been explained and put on the shelf – Moreno would keep asking herself what made
her remain so passive during that first brief meeting between Vrommel, Sigrid Lijphart and herself.

What vague intuition dictated that she should simply sit on a chair and listen?

Just sit there and observe and take note – instead of immediately coming clean and admitting that she had both met and conversed with Mikaela Lijphart while on the train to Lejnice last
Saturday.

Surely that would have been the most natural thing to do? To tell the worried mother that she had actually spoken to her missing daughter – albeit a few days ago.

But she said nothing. Simply sat on a chair diagonally behind Sigrid Lijphart and let Vrommel take charge. Let him run the show – it was his baby after all, nobody else’s. Full
stop.

To begin with he wiped his bald head with a paper tissue.

‘I expect you remember me?’ said fru Lijphart again.

Vrommel checked in the mirror next to the door that his bald patch was sufficiently lustrous, chucked the tissue into the waste-paper basket and sat down at his desk. Five seconds passed.

‘Of course I remember you. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant story.’

‘I hoped I would never have to come back here again.’

‘I can understand that.’

Fru Lijphart took two deep breaths, and tried to lower her shoulders. She’s not in love with Vrommel either, Moreno thought, but she’s trying to give the impression that she respects
him.

‘Let’s hear it from the beginning,’ said Vrommel.

Fru Lijphart took another deep breath.

‘We live in Moorhuijs now. We’ve lived there since . . . well, since then. I’ve married again.’

Vrommel picked up a ballpoint pen from the black stand.

‘Mikaela, my daughter, had her eighteenth birthday last Friday. As we’d planned, we told her then who her real father was. Children have a right to know . . . Once they’re old
enough. No matter what the circumstances.’

Vrommel clicked his pen and wrote something on the notepad in front of him.

‘No matter what the circumstances,’ said fru Lijphart again. ‘Mikaela said immediately that she was going to go and visit him, and the very next day – last Saturday
– she came here. She took the early morning train, it was her decision and I respected it. But since then she’s been missing.’

‘Missing?’ said Vrommel.

‘Missing,’ said fru Lijphart. ‘I’ve phoned the Sidonis home, and they say she was there between about two and half past four. On Saturday afternoon. But she’s not
been seen since then.’

Vrommel stroked his moustache with his index finger.

‘Hmm,’ he said. ‘Girls of her age can easily—’

‘Rubbish,’ said fru Lijphart. ‘I know my daughter. She doesn’t conform at all to prejudices of that sort. She had planned to be away for one night, no more.
Something’s happened to her. I know there’s something funny going on. I demand that you do something! For Christ’s sake, do something for a change! My girl’s disappeared,
make sure you find her, or else . . . or else . . .’

The desperation in her voice surged up out of an abyss, it seemed to Moreno. Barely camouflaged panic that originated of course in the most horrific of all horrific scenarios.

A mother who can’t find her child. Never mind that the child is now eighteen. Never mind that only a few days have passed. Moreno was about to say something at last, but she was prevented
by the chief of police who clicked his pen again and cleared his throat.

‘Of course, fru Lijphart. Of course. We shall look into this without further ado. There’s no need to get too upset. Let’s see now, did you speak to him when you phoned Sidonis?
To her father, that is. Perhaps she told him what her plans were.’

‘To Arnold? Did I speak to Arnold?’

‘Yes. We’re talking about Arnold Maager, aren’t we?’

Fru Lijphart looked down at the floor for a while. Then:

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘We’re talking about Arnold, of course. But I didn’t speak to him. I spoke to a carer.’

‘Do you have any contact?’

‘No.’

‘None at all?’

‘No.’

‘I see,’ said Vrommel. ‘Where can we get in touch with you?’

It was obvious that fru Lijphart hadn’t thought about this aspect of the problem. She sucked her lips and raised her eyebrows.

‘Kongershuus – is that still going?’

Vrommel nodded.

‘I’ll take a room there. For one night at least.’

‘Good. I don’t suppose you know where your daughter intended to spend the night? Assuming she was intending to spend the night here.’

Fru Lijphart shook her head again. Vrommel stood up to indicate that the conversation was at an end.

‘Excellent. We’ll be in touch the moment we know anything.’

‘This evening?’

‘This evening or tomorrow morning.’

Fru Lijphart hesitated for a moment. Then she nodded grimly and left the Lejnice police station.

BOOK: The Weeping Girl
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