The Final Murder
pay their share of the rent, she made that absolutely clear to them on the phone. She had actually found herself looking forward to spending three weeks with the people who she had, after all, known since she was a child.
    After nineteen days down there, the landlord had offered to let her stay until March. He hadn’t managed to find any tenants for the winter and didn’t like the house to stand empty. Of course, it helped that the woman had tidied and cleaned just before he
    came. He probably also noticed that only one of the beds had been used, as he prowled from room to room, pretending to look at the electrics.
    It was as easy to write on her laptop here as at home. And she had free accommodation.
    The Riviera was overrated.
    Villefranche was a sham town for tourists. In her opinion, any reality that might have been there had disappeared a long time ago-even the several-hundred-year-old castle by the sea looked as if it had been built from cardboard and plastic. When French taxi drivers can speak half-decent English, there has to be something seriously wrong with the place.
    It annoyed her immensely that the police had got nowhere.
    But then, it was a difficult case. And the Norwegian police had never been anything to boast about, provincial, weaponless
    eunuchs that they were.
    She, on the other hand, was an expert.
    The nights had closed in.
     
    Seventeen days had passed since Fiona Helle was murdered
    and it was now the 6th of February.
    Adam Stubo sat in his office in the dreariest part of Oslo’s east end, staring at the grains of sand running through an hourglass.
    The beautifully shaped object was unusually large. The stand was handmade. Adam had always thought it was made of oak, good old Norwegian woodwork that had darkened and aged over hundreds
    of years. But a visiting French criminologist, who had been there just before Christmas, had studied the antique with some interest.
    Mahogany, he declared, and shook his head when Adam told him that the instrument had been in his seafaring family for fourteen generations.
    ‘This,’ the Frenchman said, in perfect English, ‘this little curiosity was made some time between 1880 and 1900. I doubt it has even been on board a ship. Many of them were made as ornaments for well-to-do people’s homes.’
    Then he shrugged his shoulders.
    ‘But by all means,’ he added, ‘a pretty little thing.’
    Adam chose to believe in the family story rather than some
    wayward passing Frenchman. The hourglass had stood on his
    grandparents’ mantelpiece, out of reach of anyone under twenty one. A treasured object that his father would turn over for his son every now and then, so he could watch the shiny grains of silver grey sand in the beautiful, hand-blown glass as they ran through a hole that his grandmother claimed was smaller than a strand of hair.
    The files that were piled up along the walls and on the desk on both sides of the hourglass told another, more tangible story. The story of Fiona Helle’s murder had a grotesque start, but nothing that resembled an end. The hundreds of witness statements, the endless technical analyses, special reports, photographs and tactical observations seemed to point in all directions but led nowhere.
    Adam could not remember another case like it, where they had absolutely nothing to go on.
    He was getting on for fifty. He had worked in the police force since he was twenty-two. He had trudged the streets on the beat, hauled in down-and-outs and drunk drivers as a constable; he considered joining the dog unit out of sheer curiosity, had been
    extremely unhappy behind a desk in 0KOKRIM, the economic
    and environmental crime unit, and then finally ended up in the Criminal Investigation Service, by chance. It felt like a couple of lifetimes ago. Naturally, he couldn’t remember all his cases. He had given up trying to keep a mental record a long time ago. The murders were too numerous, the rapes too callous. The figures were meaningless
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