Tuesday: Week Two


Karl Lund and his team began at six in the morning and spent five hours sorting through the contents of the underground bin. They found twenty-three ribs and dozens of smaller bones which looked like finger bones. They scraped off the dirt for analysis, bagged the bones and sent them to Harry Norsk. The bin was sealed again until the rest of the contents could be analysed.

Harry washed the bones with boiling water and detergent. He was putting them on steel trays when Eddy and Katrine came into the lab.   

“The rib bones are from pigs,” he said. “Human ribs look pretty much like pork ribs. Haven’t you ever noticed that?”

Katrine thought it might be some time before she ate pork ribs again. 

“The little bones are chicken bones,” said Harry. “It’s hard to tell the difference between chicken bones and human finger bones. I put them under the microscope and ran a couple of tests. They’re chicken bones all right.”

Katrine glanced at Eddy. He gave her a rueful smile. 

“So I’ve shut down the entire waste disposal organisation of the city to find the remains of a barbecue,” he said. “At who knows what cost,” he added miserably. 

Katrine turned to him in sympathy. She was already bracing herself for the shouts, the storming up and down, the angry questions from Larsen.

Harry picked up the two bigger bones. He held them up, one in each hand, like trophies. He smiled broadly.  

“These are definitely human. I can’t tell either age or sex. Not yet anyway. But some person or persons put the arm bones of a human being in a rubbish bin.”

Katrine felt like cheering. 

She and Eddy spent the next two hours contacting all the hospitals and clinics in Aarhus to ask if any bones intended for an incinerator might have accidentally ended up in a city refuse bin. It was unlikely, but they checked anyway. A team of uniformed police went from door to door questioning the residents of the housing blocks who used the bin in which the bones had been found. 

“No one admits to putting the bones in the bin. Not that I’d expect whoever did it to say so,” Eddy told the Chief Superintendent. “Nobody saw anything suspicious. No one on the list of missing persons comes from that neighbourhood. It’s a mystery, Sir.”

“Then get on with solving it, right?” said Larsen.


Tobias was at Stockholm airport, distracted by a bottle out of line with its fellows on a shelf in the duty-free shop. He stopped on his way to the departure gate to push it back into place. 

“Hello, Inspector,” said a musical voice behind him. “What brings you to Sweden?”

Tobias knew it was Sofie before he turned around and saw her, head to one side, smiling at him. He felt wide awake. He felt like buying a bottle of whiskey. His hand was still on the bottle. He picked it up. There was something about Sofie that made a man think he needed a drink.

“I could ask you the same question,” he said.  

“I was here for meetings about a mining development up north. So what about you, Tobias?”

“I came to interview someone about the body found at Roligmose two weeks ago.” 

“Dad told me you were at Skovlynd with him when you had to rush off and investigate. He was very excited about it.” Her eyes danced. “Are you getting closer?”

“I hope so,” said Tobias. “Maybe we can sit together on the plane.”

“I’m in business class,” said Sofie. 

“I’m in economy.” 

“I don’t mind slumming it, if there’s a spare seat beside you,” said Sofie. “I’ll see you at the gate.”

Tobias realised he still had the bottle of whiskey in his hand. He took it to the till. 

The plane was full. There were no spare seats in either class. 

“Bad luck,” said Sofie. 

“Maybe we could have dinner sometime,” said Tobias. “Are you free this weekend?”  

Sofie shook her head. “I’ll be in France. Kurt bought a chateau last year. It’s going to be a hotel with a golf course and vineyard. He’s got a good course designer. I think you’d like it. ” 

“What part of France?” He wanted to prolong the conversation. 

“Between Lyon and Avignon. Near the Rhone.”

The last business class passengers were boarding. Sofie surprised Tobias with a quick hug. “I’ll call you when I get back.” 

He walked past her on his way to the economy seats at the back of the plane, but she was looking out of the window and didn’t see him. When he disembarked at Copenhagen there was no sign of her. He made his way to where he had parked his car the previous morning. On the motorway, he was overtaken by a Bentley. He caught a glimpse of two passengers in the back seat, heads down, perusing documents. One of them was Sofie. The other looked like Kurt Malling.

Tobias picked up a hire car and drove to the address he’d got for Emily Rasmussen. It was a tall, detached house with a large garden on a leafy avenue on the northern outskirts of Skandeborg. A man, carrying a trowel and a tomato plant, stood gazing into a lily pond set into the lawn at the side of the house. Tobias walked towards him. The man looked up.

“Bloody heron’s been taking the carp again.”

“Mr Rasmussen?”

The man looked surprised. “You’ve come to the wrong house. Nobody called Rasmussen lives here.” He paused before adding, “I don’t live here. I’m the gardener. The Hendriksens are on holiday in South Africa. This is their property. I know they’ve been here for at least five years because I’ve been doing this garden for five years and the same bloody heron has been taking the fish.” He absentmindedly sniffed the tomato plant.

“Do you have contact details for the Hendriksens?”

“I thought you were looking for people called Rasmussen,” said the gardener in a suspicious tone. 

Tobias produced his ID. “They might know where I can find the Rasmussens.” 

“Wait a minute,” said the gardener. He put down the tomato plant, rapped on the nearest window and signalled to someone inside. “My wife will meet you at the front door. She does the cleaning. She’s been with them longer than I have.”

They walked round to the front of the house. The door opened and a woman came out.

“This is a policeman, Birgit,” said the gardener. “He wants to get in contact with the Hendriksens.”  

“They said not to call unless it was urgent.”

“This is urgent,” said Tobias. 

Birgit went back into the house and reappeared with a sheet of paper. Tobias already had his phone in his hand. Birgit dictated the number to him. He put the phone to his ear.

“Arne Hendrickson,” said a sharp voice. “I don’t recognise this number. Who are you? Is something wrong?”

“Nothing is wrong,” said Tobias. “I’m Inspector Tobias Lange, Criminal Investigations Department, Aarhus. I need to contact a person called Emily Rasmussen. Your house is the last address we have for her.” 

“We are about to leave for a game drive,” said Arne Hendrickson. “Can you call tomorrow?”

“I’d prefer to do this now,” said Tobias. “It won’t take long. Do you have an address or telephone number for Emily Rasmussen who lived here in 1997? I believe she can help us with an urgent enquiry.” 

”Is this a joke? I should warn you, I know the National Commissioner. How do I know this isn’t a joke?” 

“You could call the Commissioner,” said Tobias drily.

Silence. A woman’s voice said, “This is Sarah Hendrickson. We bought the house from people called Thomsen. We don’t know anyone called Emily Rasmussen. Perhaps our neighbour will know. She has lived in Strandvejen for at least thirty years.” 

Silence again. The man’s voice said, “We have to go now. Sorry.”  The line went dead. 

“Mrs Hendriksen thinks one of the neighbours might know,” said Tobias. “Do either of you know which neighbour has lived here for thirty years?”

“That’ll be Mrs Jacobsen,” said the gardener. “I look after her garden as well. She’s probably at home. She doesn’t go out much any more.”

The elderly woman who answered the door to Tobias was leaning on a Zimmer frame. It seemed to Tobias that her initial surprise gave way to pleasure at a visitor. She brightened when he showed his ID and said he was making enquiries about Emily Rasmussen. 

“Why? What do you want to know about her? She hasn’t got herself into some kind of trouble, has she?” 

“I think she can help us with a line of enquiry,” said Tobias. 

“Well, don’t loiter on the doorstep,” said Mrs Rasmussen, already moving down the hallway. “Shut the door behind you.” 

Tobias followed her into a conservatory flooded with sunshine. Mrs Jacobsen manoeuvred herself into a high-backed cane chair and indicated to Tobias to sit in the matching chair opposite it.

“I knew Emily when she was a little girl. They lived next door. Then Jens died,” Mrs Jacobsen paused, “it must be nearly twenty years ago. How time flies. Emily was devastated. Astrid too, of course. He was only forty-two. He had a heart attack. And he always seemed such a healthy man. He swam all year round, right here.” She turned her head and shaded her eyes against the dazzle of the lake. “But he smoked, of course.” She swivelled her gaze back to Tobias. “I hope you don’t smoke, young man.” 

Tobias shook his head, smiling inwardly at being described as a young man and resigned to waiting for Mrs Jacobsen to tell him more about Emily. He risked a prompt.

“Did Emily’s mother remarry?”

Mrs Jacobsen nodded. “She was a pretty woman. Fluffy blonde hair and big eyes. The kind of woman men want to protect. She met him at a bridge tournament, about a year after Jens died. They got married a year after that. Bridge,” she added, “is the widow’s friend. I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I didn’t play bridge. But when you get to my age, there aren’t many men playing bridge. They’ve all died off.” She sighed. “Are you married, Inspector?” 

“Not at the moment.” Get her back on track. Get her talking about Emily again. “I have a daughter. I think she’d be upset if I died. What age was Emily when her father died?”

“She was seventeen or eighteen, I think. She had such a shock. They were very close. She never took to her mother’s new man. I met him a few times. He seemed nice enough to me. But Emily never liked him. She didn’t want her mother to marry him. I remember one time we had them over for summer drinks in the garden. ‘I don’t like him,’ she said to me. ‘I don’t want Mum to marry him.’ She was fierce about it. She didn’t like it when he moved in.”

“And then they moved house?” Steady now. We’re getting there.

Mrs Jacobsen nodded. “I don’t suppose the new husband liked being in a house full of memories of the previous one. I assume Astrid is still married to him. I haven’t seen or spoken to her for years. Although we still exchange Christmas cards.”

Great. She has an address for Emily’s mother.

“Poor Astrid,” said Mrs Jacobsen. “So sad about her and Emily.”

Take it easy. Don’t rush her. “Why do you say that?” 

“Emily left home and never came back. She and Astrid had some kind of argument. Emily went off with her boyfriend. Astrid was distraught. She couldn’t stop crying. Her husband was upset as well. I wish I could remember his name.”

“Do you remember the name of Emily’s boyfriend?”

“I never met him,” said Mrs Jacobsen. “I don’t think either Astrid or her new husband approved of him. He was some kind of drop-out.”

“Was he called Lennart?”

“I don’t remember,” said Mrs Jacobsen. “Astrid might remember.”

 At last. “Do you know how I can get in touch with her?” 

“If you’d be kind enough to bring me that address book on the table beside the telephone, I’ll tell you where she lives now.” 

Tobias found the fat, leather-bound book and brought it to Mrs Jacobsen. She turned the pages carefully.  

“Here she is. Astrid Thomsen.” She handed the book to Tobias. “You can write down the address. I don’t have the telephone number.”

Tobias copied the address and replaced the book on the table.  

“Do you have any idea what Emily and her mother argued about?”

Mrs Jacobsen shook her head. “I wondered if it was something to do with Emily’s boyfriend.” She paused for a moment. “I remember the police came to the house a couple of times. Astrid was upset. She wouldn’t tell me why the police had been there. She said she didn’t want to talk about it.” She added darkly, “Drugs, probably.”

“You’ve been a great help, Mrs Jacobsen. I’ll not trouble you any more.”

“No trouble at all,” said Mrs Jacobsen. “It’s quite made my day.” 


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