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Authors: Hakan Nesser

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But perhaps one couldn’t expect him to have done so, Moreno thought. Bearing in mind the recent return of his girlfriend. But at least he had promised to investigate whether anybody had
been to visit Maager at Sidonis. Or telephoned him. It had to be of crucial importance to get that sorted out as quickly as possible.

As she was thinking that, her mobile rang.

It was Mikael. They had spoken for a quarter of an hour the previous evening. Nothing very profound, but at least they had found an appropriate pitch at which to communicate with each other,
which had to be good news.

And he hadn’t said a word about being in love with her.

Now he was ringing just to say that he intended to pay Kluivert, Kluivert and Sons’ bill himself: he had thought the matter over and concluded that he had been unfair. After a short
discussion, she let him have his way.

When they had hung up, she remained seated for a while, thinking. She realized that she was having difficulty in suppressing a grim smile, but then took out her notebook and wrote down three
questions.

What the hell has happened to Mikaela Lijphart?

What the hell has happened to Arnold Maager?

What the hell am I poking my nose into this business for, instead of enjoying my holiday like any normal person?

She stared at the questions and drank up the rest of her coffee. Then she wrote down a fourth question.

What the hell can I do today in order to find an answer to any of these questions?

She thought for a while longer, until she had decided on Plan A. It was five minutes to nine. Not a bad start to a day.

The woman who opened the door reminded her of a fish.

Perhaps it was something to do with her looks, or perhaps it was the smell. Probably an unholy alliance of both, with each sensual reaction reinforcing the other.

‘Fru Maas?’

‘Yes.’

Moreno introduced herself and asked if she might come in for a chat.

No, she may not.

She asked if she could treat her to a cup of coffee and a glass of something somewhere. Maybe in Strandterrassen?

Yes, she could.

But not in Strandterrassen. There were too many capitalists and other schmucks there, explained fru Maas, and instead led the way to Darms cafe in the bus square. Honest people could sit here at
a pavement table and watch the crowds in the square. If you got tired of that, you could always watch the pigeons.

It was congenial, in other words. What the hell did she want?

Moreno waited until the coffee and cognac had been served, then explained that she was a private detective looking for an eighteen-year-old girl. And that it was linked in a way with the tragic
happening concerning fru Maas’s daughter Winnie. Sixteen years ago, she thought it was.

‘Private filth?’ said Sigrid Maas, downing the cognac in one gulp. ‘Go to hell!’

Bitch? Moreno thought. I have a lot to learn.

‘I’ll make it easier for you,’ she said, cupping a protective hand round her own glass of cognac. ‘If you answer my questions truthfully, and cut out the nonsense and
insults, you’ll earn yourself fifty smackers.’

Fru Maas glared at her, her mouth a mere narrow strip. She didn’t answer, but it was obvious that she was weighing up the offer.

‘You can have my cognac as well,’ said Moreno, removing her hand from the glass.

‘If you diddle me, I swear blind I’ll kill you,’ said fru Maas.

‘I shan’t diddle you,’ said Moreno, checking in her purse to see if she really had that amount of cash with her. ‘How could I?’

Fru Maas didn’t answer, but lit a cigarette and moved the glass of cognac closer to her.

‘Fire away!’

‘Mikaela Lijphart,’ said Moreno. ‘She’s the daughter of Arnold Maager, who murdered your daughter. A girl aged eighteen, as I said – she was only two when it
happened. My first question is whether she’s been here to see you during the last few weeks.’

Fru Mass inhaled deeply and sniffed at the cognac.

‘Yes, she’s been,’ she said. ‘Last Sunday, I think it was. ‘God only knows why she came, God only knows why I allowed her in – the daughter of that bloody
swine who ruined my life. I suppose I’m too kind-hearted, that’s the problem.’

For a moment Moreno suspected the woman sitting opposite her was lying through her teeth. In order to keep Moreno happy and not lose out on the promised payment, perhaps. But it was easy to
check.

‘What did she look like?’

Fru Maas glared at her for a second, then leaned back on her chair and launched into a rather colourful description of Mikaela Lijphart: it was obvious to Moreno that this was the right girl. No
doubt about it. Mikaela Lijphart really had come to visit fru Maas when she took the bus from the youth hostel that Sunday morning. What an unexpected bull’s eye!

She suddenly felt that little nervous twinge – that sudden stimulus that could almost send her shooting off on a high and which might well have been the main reason why she decided to
become a detective officer in the first place. If she were to be honest with herself.

Or which kept her in her job, at least. Something clicked. A suspicion was confirmed, and loose assumptions suddenly became reality. She felt totally and thrillingly alive – there was
something sensual about it.

She had never spoken to anybody about this, not even Münster. Perhaps because she was afraid of not being taken seriously – or of being laughed at – but also because she
didn’t need to. She had no need to discuss this special pleasure with anybody else – or to attempt to put it into words. The fact that it was there was quite sufficient. It is,
therefore it is, she had concluded on a previous occasion.

And now here she was, sitting at this cafe table with this ravaged, drunken woman, and experiencing this same vibrating excitement once again. Mikaela Lijphart had been to see her. That Sunday.
Exactly as she’d thought.

Exactly as she would have done if she had been Mikaela Lijphart – gone to see the mother of the poor girl her father had killed. Sought her out so that . . . Hmm, why?

Hard to say. Certain moves were so obvious that you didn’t really need to ask yourself why you had made them: reflex reactions in a way, but nearly always correct in the context. Just as
instinctively straightforward as that nervous twinge.

‘Why the hell are you looking for this young lass?’ asked fru Maas, interrupting her train of thought.

‘She’s gone missing,’ said Moreno again.

‘Gone missing?’

‘Yes. Nobody has seen her since that Sunday when she came to see you. Nine days ago.’

‘Hmm. I expect she’s run off with a bloke. That’s what they do at that age.’

She took a swig of coffee, then poured the contents of the glass of cognac into the cup. Sniffed at the resultant brew with the expression of a connoisseur. Moreno didn’t doubt for a
second that fru Maas used to run off with blokes when she was at that age, but she doubted whether Mikaela Lijphart had done that.

‘What did you talk about?’ she asked.

‘Not much. She wanted to talk about her bloody father, that bastard, but I didn’t want to. Why should I have to sit there remembering that shit-heap who killed my daughter? Eh? Can
you tell me that?’

Moreno was unable to do so.

‘Do you know that he’s in the Sidonis care home, Arnold Maager?’ she asked instead.

Fru Maas snorted.

‘Of course I bloody well know. He can be where the hell he likes, as long as I don’t have to think about him. Or listen to people talking about him.’

‘And so you spoke about something else instead, then?’ asked Moreno. ‘With Mikaela Lijphart, that is.’

Fru Maas shrugged.

‘I don’t remember. We didn’t talk about much at all. She was quite a cheeky young lady, that Mikaela girl, yes indeed.’

‘Cheeky? What do you mean?’

‘She suggested that it wasn’t him.’

‘Not him? What do you mean?’

‘She started going on about how she might have jumped down from the viaduct of her own accord, and a load of crap like that. My Winnie? What? I was furious of course, and told her to hold
her tongue.’

‘Did she say why?’

‘Eh?’

‘If she suggested that her dad might be innocent, she must have had some reason for saying that.’

Fru Maas stubbed out her cigarette and immediately started fumbling in the pack for another one.

‘God only knows. A lot of crap in any case – although she had been out at the loony bin and spoken to him. He evidently hadn’t the courage to admit to his own daughter what
he’d done, the cowardly bastard! Of course he did it. Screwing a schoolgirl! A sixteen-year-old! My Winnie! Can you imagine it, such a shit-heap?’

Moreno thought for a moment.

‘What did she do next?’

‘Eh?’

‘Do you know where Mikaela went after she’d been speaking to you?’

Fru Maas lit her cigarette and seemed to be thinking things over.

‘I don’t know,’ she said eventually.

Moreno said nothing, and waited.

‘I suppose she wanted to speak to a few others,’ said fru Maas after a while, reluctantly. ‘Friends of Winnie – though God only knows what good that would do.’

She took a deep swig from her cup, and closed her eyes as she swallowed it.

‘Who exactly? Did you give her any names?’

Fru Maas inhaled and tried to look nonchalant. As if she didn’t want to say any more.

‘You haven’t exactly earned your reward,’ said Moreno.

‘A few,’ said fru Maas. ‘A few names, I seem to remember . . . Since she was so bloody stubborn and wouldn’t shut up. I couldn’t get rid of her. So in the end I
told her to go to Vera Sauger and leave me in peace.’

‘Vera Sauger?’

‘Yes, a hell of a nice girl. Best friends with Winnie since infants’ school. And she’s kept in touch as well, while all the others have just ignored me, and looked God in the
arse when I’ve bumped into them in town.’

Looked God in the arse? Moreno thought. Reinhart would love that.

‘So you suggested that Mikaela should go and see Vera Sauger, did you?’

Fru Maas nodded as she emptied her cup. Pulled a face.

‘Do you know if she did visit her?’

‘How the hell should I know? I just gave her a telephone number. No, come on, it’s time for you to cough up. I’ve got better things to do than sitting around here being
pestered.’

Moreno realized that she’d had enough as well. She handed over the money, and thanked fru Maas for her help. Maas grabbed the note and marched off without a word.

Vera Sauger? Moreno thought. The name sounds familiar.

28

‘Van Rippe?’ said Intendent Kohler. ‘And what do we know about him?’

Vrommel brushed aside a fly that seemed to have taken an incomprehensible liking (as far as Constable Vegesack was concerned, at least) to his sweaty bald pate. (Presumably it thought it was
just another dung heap, Vegesack thought, and made a mental note to enter this analysis into his black book.)

‘We know what we know,’ asserted the chief of police, and began reading from the sheet of paper he was holding in his hand. ‘Thirty-four years old. Lived out at Klimmerstoft.
Born and bred there, in fact. Bachelor. Worked at Klingsmann’s, the furniture manufacturer, had done so for the last four years. There’s not a lot to say about him. Lived with a woman
for a few years, but they split up. No children. Played football for a few years, but stopped after a knee injury. No criminal record, never involved in anything dodgy . . . No enemies as far as we
know.’

‘Churchgoer, Friends of the Earth and the Red Cross?’ wondered the other detective officer from Wallburg. His name was Baasteuwel, and was a small, somewhat unkempt detective
inspector in his forties. With a reputation for being shrewd, if Vegesack had understood the situation rightly. In any case, he was the direct opposite of Vrommel, and it was a pleasure to observe
their mutual antipathy. To crown it all, Baasteuwel smoked evil-smelling cigarettes more or less all the time, totally oblivious to the chief of police’s objections, stated and unstated. This
place wasn’t a day nursery, for Christ’s sake.

‘Not as far as we know,’ muttered Vrommel. ‘Not yet, at least. We only identified him this morning, and so far we’ve only talked to a few of his friends. He has a brother
and a mother still living: we’ve made contact with the brother and he’s on his way here. His mother is on a motoring holiday in France, but will probably be back home tomorrow. The day
after at the latest.’

‘Mobile phone?’ asked Kohler.

‘Negative,’ said Vrommel. ‘We’ll know more about Van Rippe when we’ve talked to a few more people. He seems to have been missing since last Sunday in any case. Can
we move on to the technical details?’

‘Why not?’ said Baasteuwel. He stubbed out his cigarette and lit a new one.

Vrommel gathered together his papers, then nodded to Constable Vegesack who took a sip of mineral water and began speaking.

It took almost ten minutes. Tim Van Rippe had died at some point on Sunday or Monday last week. The murder weapon was a pointed but not necessarily sharp instrument, as yet unidentified and
unspecified, probably made of metal, which penetrated his left eye, continued into the cerebrum and wiped out so many vital functions that Van Rippe was probably clinically dead within three to six
seconds after the penetration. It was not impossible that he might have delivered the fatal blow himself, but in that case some other person, as yet unidentified and unspecified, must have taken
away the weapon and buried Van Rippe on the beach.

He had been lying there buried in the place where he was found by Henning Keeswarden and Fingal Wielki, aged six and four respectively, for about a week. It was not possible to establish how
long had passed between the moment of death and the burial, according to the pathologist, Dr Goormann, but there was no reason to suspect that it would have been very long.

So much for the medical science. As for the results of the efforts of the scene-of-crime officers, most of them were not yet available. Roughly sixty more or less sandy objects had been sent to
the Forensic Laboratory in Maardam for analysis. All that could be said for certain at this point in time was that no possible murder weapon had been found – nor anything that could throw
light on what it might have looked like.

BOOK: The Weeping Girl
10.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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