Helene Tursten: The Glass Devil

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Helene Tursten The Glass Devil
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Helene Tursten. The Glass Devil

(Det. Inspector Huss — 3)

To Hilmer and Cecilia

Many thanks to Magnus Tuneld at Mactun Data in Karlstad for all his helpful information about computers; Peter Jernfalt for his corrections as to weapon specifications; and both the active and retired police officers whom I have been able to consult.


Everything had seemed perfect. Maybe too perfect; he realized that now. He had been lulled into a sense of security, believing that it would never catch up with him. It really hadn’t seemed like it would. Not until now.

It was, quite simply, terrible bad luck. Nothing else.

In the big city, he was anonymous; he could live in peace. That was the only thing he wanted: to be left alone.

The long walks in the surrounding countryside had helped heal his spiritual wounds. He had started going to the gym again. He’d spent this evening at the gym and given his body a real workout. It felt good. He was on his way to building a new body and a new life.

Everything had been going in the right direction. Then she came into his life.

She was everything he had dreamed about. Long dark brown hair, brown eyes, and a fantastic smile. Her warm, supple body against his when he held her in his arms. .

They had known all along that they had to keep it a secret. If her family found out about their relationship, anything might happen. Her father and brothers were capable of taking the law into their own hands. He had asked her several times to be very careful, not to tell anyone about them.

And now it had all fallen apart. She hadn’t had the strength to hold out against her family’s questions. In the end, she had told them everything.

It would be best to move from his house for a while and hope that things would calm down. He would have to live with Mom and Dad for the time being. In reality, he knew that this wouldn’t help. Her family would refuse to understand how much they had loved each other.

He feared retaliation. It would surely come. It was their custom and culture when they believed the family’s honor had been stained. He knew this and didn’t fool himself. Vengeance would come.

HE TURNED in on the small gravel road that led up to the cottage. For what must have been the thousandth time, he swore because there were no streetlights. The municipality saw no reason to spend money on them, since the remaining three houses along the road were also summer cottages. He parked in the little gravel-covered area inside the gate. When he turned off his headlights, he was surrounded by impenetrable darkness. It was after eleven o’clock on this cold night at the end of March. Black clouds had gathered in the sky and it looked like it would rain or snow during the night. There was no light at all here in the forest. The tall trees grew thickly. The small lamp that hung over the front door was lit, but failed to illuminate the parking area.

He got out of the car and stretched. As always, he took a deep breath and filled his lungs with clean forest air. Despite the fact that he should be used to it by now, he felt the silence press against his eardrums. But it wasn’t completely quiet: A gentle breeze swished in the tops of the trees, and a dog barked in the distance. The cars on the highway could be heard like a faint roar, if one really strained to listen. The sound of an approaching airplane could be heard in the distance, coming in for a landing at Landvetter Airport.

His earlier thoughts caught up with him, and he looked around nervously. Everything appeared normal, calm and quiet. He focused his attention on the small Falu-red house, painted the color of baked bricks. It was a winterized summer cottage that his parents owned. He had felt completely safe and secure here. Now he scanned the house nervously. Nothing seemed out of place. Everything looked as it had when he had left it that morning. Then, he hadn’t known how the day would turn out. It had been a complete catastrophe! What wasn’t allowed to happen, had happened.

He removed his gym bag and lunch box from the back seat, as well as a grocery-filled plastic bag, locked the car, and walked toward the front door. Then he took the key ring from his jacket pocket, unlocked the door, and stepped into the small hallway. The light from the outside lamp silhouetted him in the doorway.

God, I really must be visible, he thought. Then he became aware of a faint movement in the deep darkness.

“Who is it? No! Not this way!” he tried to scream. But not a word crossed his paralyzed lips.

The only thing he could make out in the sparsely lit hall was the black hand that held a rifle. The rest of the figure was concealed by darkness. “Gloves,” he had time to think for a second, irrationally pleased with his own deductive ability.

He stared as though hypnotized into the round black eye.

There was a thousandth of a second’s flame.

Then darkness.

Chapter 1

THE INTERCOM ON DETECTIVE Inspector Irene Huss’s desk beeped.

“It’s Sven. Is Tommy there?”

“No. He’s interrogating a suspect in custody in the Speedy murder case. He probably won’t be back before five at the earliest.”

Criminal Superintendent Sven Andersson snorted into the intercom. “He’ll have his hands full if he’s going to try and soften up Asko Pihlainen. He may not be back until five a.m. tomorrow!”

Even though the superintendent couldn’t see it, Irene Huss nodded her agreement.

“Is there anything I can help you with?” she asked. She began to hope that she might be able to leave the piles of boring reports which, for some unexplainable reason, had the tendency to pile up on her desk. The fact that she loathed paperwork and gladly put it off may have had something to do with this.

“Come to my office and we’ll talk.”

The superintendent hadn’t finished his sentence before Irene hopped up. If the boss called, she didn’t have to be urged to respond. That she would have to stop writing reports was simply an unfortunate side effect.

Andersson looked contemplative. He leaned back in his chair, which whined under his weight, nodded at Irene, and motioned her to the visitor’s chair. He sat quietly, seemingly at a loss as to how to begin. The silence started to become oppressive. His asthmatic breaths seemed to echo in the room. He pressed the palms of his hands together; his knuckles popped; he rested the lower of his double chins against the tips of his fingers and stared blankly at a point above Irene’s head. Finally, he slapped his hands on the desktop, rose with difficulty, and said, “It’ll have to be you and me. We’ll have to go.”

Without providing any more details, he took his coat from the hook near the door. “We’re leaving immediately,” he called over his shoulder.

Irene went to her office to get her jacket. I’m just like Sammie: Jingle the leash and say the magic word out, and I’ll come running eagerly without asking where to, she thought, ironically.

“FIRST, I was thinking about sending a patrol car, but it’s so damn difficult to get ahold of a free one. And to send it out into the woods around Norssjön. . No. It’s better that I take care of it myself,” Superintendent Andersson told her as they drove toward Boråsleden.

Irene was about to point out that he actually wasn’t alone, but she knew her boss and remained silent. She didn’t want to tease him because she really liked him.

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