Woman with Birthmark

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Book: Woman with Birthmark Read Online Free PDF
Author: Håkan Nesser
bedroom.
    He opened another eye. The clock on the aforementioned table indicated 7:55. Who in hell's name had the nerve to wake him up on a Saturday morning when he wasn't on duty he wondered. Who?
    In January.
    If there was a month he hated, it was January—it went on forever with rain or snow all day long, and a grand total of half an hour's sunshine.
    There was only one sane way of occupying oneself at this lugubrious time of year: sleeping. Period.
    He stretched out his left hand and lifted the receiver.
    “Van Veeteren.”
    “Good morning, Chief Inspector.”
    It was Reinhart.
    “Why the flaming hell are you ringing to wake me up at half past five on a Saturday morning? Are you out of your mind?”
    But Reinhart sounded as incorruptible as a traffic warden.
    “It's eight o'clock. If you don't want to be contacted, and refuse to buy an answering machine, you can always pull out the plug. If you'd like to listen, Chief Inspector, I can explain how you—”
    “Shut up, Inspector! Get to the point!”
    “By all means,” said Reinhart. “Dead body in Leufwens Allé. Stinks of murder. One Ryszard Malik. The briefing's at three o'clock.”
    “Three?”
    “Yes, three o'clock. What do you mean?”
    “I can get from here to the police station in twenty minutes. You could have phoned me at twelve.”
    Reinhart yawned.
    “I was thinking of going to bed for a bit. I've just left there. Been at it since half past one…. I thought you might like to go there and have a look for yourself.”
    Van Veeteren leaned on his elbow and raised himself to a half-sitting position. Tried to see out through the window.
    “What's the weather like?”
    “Pouring down, and windy. Fifteen meters a second, or thereabouts.”
    “Excellent. I'll stay at home. I suppose I might turn up at three, unless my horoscope advises me not to…. Who's in charge now?”
    “Heinemann and Jung. But Jung hasn't slept for two nights, so he'll probably need some rest soon.”
    “Any clues?”
    “No.”
    “How did it happen?”
    “Shot. But the briefing is at three o'clock, not now. I think it's a pretty peculiar setup. That's why I rang. The address is Leufwens Allé 14, in case you change your mind.”
    “Fat chance,” said Van Veeteren, and hung up.
    Needless to say it was impossible to go back to sleep. He gave up at a quarter to nine and went to lie down in the bath instead. Lay there in the half-light and thought back to the previous evening, which he'd spent at the Mephisto restaurant with Renate and Erich.
    The former wife and the lost son. (Who had still not returned and didn't seem to have any intention of doing so.) It had been one of Renate's recurrent attempts to rehabilitate her guilty conscience and the family that had never existed, and the result was just as unsuccessful as one might have expected. The conversation had been like walking on thin ice over dark waters. Erich had left them halfway through dessert, giving as an excuse an important meeting with a lady. Then they had sat there, ex-husband and ex-wife, over a cheese board of doubtful quality, going through agonies as they tried to avoid hurting each other any more than necessary. He had seen her into a taxi shortly after midnight and walked all the way home in the pious hope that the biting wind would whip his brain free from all the murky thoughts lurking inside it.
    That had failed completely. When he got home he had slumped into an armchair and listened to Monteverdi for an hour, drunk three beers, and not gone to bed until nearly half past one.
    A wasted evening, in other words. But typical, that was for sure. Very typical. Mind you, it was January. What else could he have expected?
    He got out of the bath. Did a couple of tentative back exercises in front of the bedroom mirror. Dressed, made breakfast.
    Sat down at the kitchen table with the morning paper spread out in front of him. Not a word about the murder. Naturally enough. It must have happened as the presses
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