Sunday: Week One

East Jutland Police District


Tobias Lange was playing golf when he got the call about the body in the bog. The match, against his stepmother’s fiancé, Norbert Fisker, was friendly but a little tense. The two men were wary of each other. Norbert had only recently got engaged to Tobias’s stepmother. Tobias was checking him out at the request of his stepsister who lived in England. Tobias quickly realised Norbert knew he was being checked out. He was no fool. Tobias thought him pleasant, if a little dull. His stepmother, Inge, was a handsome, lively woman. Tobias wasn’t surprised she was getting married again. But he couldn’t work out why she had chosen Norbert who was no match for her, either in looks or in style. 

“Your mother is lonely, Margrethe,” Tobias had said to his stepsister when she telephoned demanding to know more about ‘this man mother met on a cruise.’ She wants someone to share things with. She’s been on her own for five years.” A faint shock ran through him as he said it. His father had been dead five years. Five years! It still felt like a few months. 

“She only met this man in February. It’s too soon,” said Margrethe. 

“Not when you’re sixty-two,” said Tobias. “And Norbert is sixty-five. I think they just want to get on with it.”

He had already run Norbert’s name through the police computer and discovered nothing more than a fine for speeding some ten years earlier. 

“Your mother is young at heart, Margrethe. As long as this man isn’t a serial killer or after her money, or both, we should be glad she’s going to have company in her old age.”

Margrethe had made one of those harrumping noises that signify dissent. “We’ll see,” she said. 

By the time they got to the ninth tee, Tobias had learned that Norbert’s only interests, beyond running his waste disposal company, were golf and fishing; that his wife had died two years earlier; that he had a daughter who was divorced; that he was learning bridge to please Inge. 

Tobias had already concluded that Norbert had plenty of money. Skovlynd Golf and Country club was frequented by rich people. A dark blue Bentley, so highly polished it reflected the smaller cars around it, dominated the car park. He hoped it didn’t belong to Norbert. The green fee Norbert had insisted on paying for him, “No, no, let me do this. You’re my guest,” was steeper than at any other course Tobias had played in Denmark. They’d had an excellent lunch. Norbert had been greeted by any number of expensively suited men, including a distant relative of the Royal Family.

Tobias liked the course – rated one of the best in the country. It hadn’t rained. He had played well, despite losing a ball in the lake on the ninth hole, and now he had a putt on the eighteenth to finish the match all-square. That would be a satisfactory result. He was looking forward to a relaxing dinner. His stepmother was an excellent cook.

He was bringing the head of the putter to the back of the ball when the mobile phone in the back pocket of his trousers buzzed like a saw. He flashed an apologetic smile at Norbert. 

“Sorry, I have to take this.” 

His ball trundled past the hole. He swore softly.

“Feel free,” said Norbert. “Take the call. You’re allowed.” 

“This had better be urgent,” said Tobias into the phone. 

Two men stood on the wide terrace outside the bar and restaurant overlooking the eighteenth green. One was blond and imposing. He wore plus fours in brown checked tweed. His companion was shorter, greyer and more muscular. He wore a discreet business suit and carried a briefcase. They both stared disapprovingly at Tobias. 

Norbert saluted them with a wave of his hand and mouthed the word, “Police.”

Doctors, priests and policemen were exempt from the prohibition against mobile phones on the golf course. 

Tobias held the phone to his ear. He was as still as a hawk in a tree. After a few minutes he said, “Yes, yes, do that. I’ll get over there before dark to take a look.” He stowed the phone in his pocket. 

“They’ve found a body in a bog west of the E45,” he said. “A place called Roligmose. They think it could have been there at least a thousand years.”

“A bog body. That’s exciting.” Norbert putted his own ball across the green and watched it drop into the hole. “I’ve only ever seen a bog body in a museum.” 

“Me too.” Tobias had a sudden image of himself aged seven, gripping his father’s hand, only letting go to press his hands and face against the glass case with the leathery brown body curled up inside as though asleep. He had been mesmerised by Tollund Man’s eyelashes, the red stubble on his chin, the peaceful expression on his face. He lay on a mossy carpet, his cheek scrunched up against it as though resting on a pillow. Tobias remembered his shock at seeing the rope around Tollund Man’s neck and felt again the pang of compassion that had blown his heart open. ”I’ve never forgotten him,” he said.  

“There hasn’t been a find in a long time,” said Norbert. 

“There were a couple of bog bodies in Ireland in the last ten years,” said Tobias. “But nothing here since the nineteen-forties.” 

They shook hands and walked off the green. The man with the briefcase had disappeared into the clubhouse. The man in the plus fours came down the steps from the terrace calling out, “I’m delighted to see you are on good terms with the police, Norbert.” 

Goldfinger, thought Tobias. From the James Bond film. The smooth-smiling man advancing towards them wasn’t fat like the actor whose name Tobias couldn’t remember, but he had the same what-I-don’t-own-I-can-buy air about him.

 “I’m being interrogated by my future son-in-law,” said Norbert. “Chief Inspector Tobias Lange from the Criminal Investigation Unit in Aarhus.”

“Kurt Malling,” said Goldfinger. He shook hands with Tobias. “Welcome to the club. I know the Commissioner. I was chatting to him in Copenhagen last week.” He clapped Norbert on the shoulder. “We must have a game sometime, Norbert. I’ll have a look in my diary. I’m tied up at the moment. I’m about to have my photograph taken. Advance publicity for the Hickory club competition I’m hosting in July. And I dare say you’ve heard I’m going into politics? But I’ll pick out a few dates and get in touch.” He nodded at Tobias. “Nice to meet you, Chief Inspector.” He raised his hand in farewell and strode off in the direction of the car park. 

Norbert said, “When I was a young man making my way in the waste disposal business, I hated people who told me they were friends with my boss.” 

Tobias immediately warmed to him. 

“Maybe you’ll be Commissioner one day,” said Norbert cheerfully. He paused. “But maybe not. You don’t strike me as much of a back-slapper. Kurt is a great back-slapper as well as a name-dropper. Hickory competition. That explains the fancy pants. And he’s going into politics. I bet it’s a fund- raiser. He’s never asked me for a game before. I suppose he’ll want a donation for the party.”

They changed their shoes in the locker room and carried their clubs to Norbert’s car. 

“I’m sorry you have to dash off. I’ve texted Inge. She’ll be disappointed you can’t stay and have dinner with us.” Norbert paused. “You know, I can’t believe my luck in meeting her. I wanted you to see how happy we both are. I was devastated when my wife died. I thought I wouldn’t be able to go on. I was like a zombie. The business kept me going. Then I met Inge and it was like coming to life again.” He threw both sets of clubs into the boot of the car. “You never re-married, Tobias?” 

Tobias hesitated. Words swam around in his head. Hope. Duty. Love. Disappointment. Anger. Dislike. Had he known Norbert better, he might have attempted to string them together in a narrative. He shook his head.

“Not even tempted?”

“It would take a lot to tempt me.” 

They saw Kurt Malling again as they were driving out of the car park. He was standing beside the Bentley talking to the man with the briefcase.  

“The last time I saw a man in plus fours like that with a man in a business suit they were in a James Bond film,” said Tobias. “It was on television at Christmas. There was a scene on a golf course. The man in the suit was a killer called Oddjob.”

Norbert laughed. “I remember. He decapitated people with a steel-rimmed bowler hat. I can’t imagine Marcus Thomsen killing anybody. He’s Malling’s in-house lawyer. I often see them together. I hear Malling is building a golf resort in the Philippines. It’s probably easier than building one in Denmark. The Lord knows they had a big enough problem with this one.” 

“I suppose raising millions is always a problem,” Tobias said drily.

“Finance wasn’t the problem,” said Norbert. “Protestors were the problem. Eco warriors. The kind of lunatics who chain themselves to trees. They were against the golf course being built.”

Tobias turned to look back at the gently rolling, tree covered landscape. 

“You’d hardly know there was a golf course here,” he said. 

“Oh, there’s still plenty of forest,” said Norbert. “With plenty of my balls in it as well. And it looks like any other forest to me. But the green brigade argued it was home to some rare species of bat. Plus they wanted to stop all golf course development. Too many pesticides and so on.” He shook his head. “I don’t much care for Malling. He’s an arrogant bugger. But he owns three courses, they’re all good and they all provide employment.”

“I don’t remember any protests,” said Tobias. 

“This was about fourteen or fifteen years ago,” said Norbert. “They went on for a couple of years. They set up a camp in the forest. They chained themselves to the trees. They lay down in front of the diggers. They drove equipment into the wall of the clubhouse. They drilled into the concrete lining of the lake on the ninth.”

He turned into the driveway of a baroque-style manor house with two wings, a mansard roof, and a formal garden at the front. 

“It’s an exact copy of a manor house on Funen,” said Norbert proudly. “I used to pass it on the way to my grandparents on the bus.” He parked on the sweep of gravel near the wide steps to the front door and rested his hands on the wheel. “I grew up in a small flat in Odense. Three of us shared a bedroom. We played in the street. I swore if I ever got rich I would have a house like this with enough bedrooms and bathrooms for my parents, my children, their children, guests. I built it when I made my first five million kroner. Garbage disposal is essential and lucrative, but it’s not fashionable, not nice.” He wrinkled his nose and then smiled broadly. “One or two snobs I know look down on me. But I tolerate them.” 

Tobias began to like him even more. 

“I’m thirty minutes from the office, fifteen minutes from the golf club. A hour to our summer house in Saeby,” said Norbert. “It’s perfect.”

Inge came out to greet them. She tutted and clucked over Tobias. “The first time I’ve cooked for you in ages and you have to go and look at a set of old bones.”

“If they’re as old as they think,” said Tobias, getting into his car. “I might be back in time for coffee and aquavit.”


He was still some two kilometres from where the bones had been found when he drove over the crest of a hill and saw the police helicopter like a great lighthouse in the clouds, its beam sweeping across an expanse of flat, dark land. The horizon glowed faintly pink. He turned into a side road and bumped down an unmade track. A lone policeman stood where the track divided. Tobias rolled down the window, showed his ID and was directed left. The track petered out. Suddenly there were vehicles everywhere, parked at crazy angles. Katrine Skaarup, the fresh-faced recent recruit to the team was waiting to greet him.  

“It’s a real circus, boss,” she shouted over the drone of the helicopter. 

Tobias got out the car and looked around. The ground was lumpy and covered with rough grass, reeds and clumps of bushes. Half a dozen uniformed police were rolling out blue and white tape and pegging it at intervals around an area the size of a football field. The helicopter banked. The spotlight flashed across a black drainage channel, turning it into a white streak across the surface of the bog and illuminating two parallel lines of tape running towards a large white tent. A model aeroplane, painted yellow and white, its wings about a metre long, its undercarriage complete with neat black rubber wheels, rested between the lines of tape as though on a miniature, floodlit runway. Beside it, a man in a denim jacket was talking to a teenager who had some kind of tray harnessed to his chest. It took Tobias a few seconds to realise it was the control panel for the model plane. The man in the denim jacket was scribbling in a notebook. The teenager was gesticulating. A tall blonde in a red jacket and matching spectacles bounded purposefully towards them. A bearded man hoisting a television camera on to his shoulder scrambled after her.

The helicopter flew off towards the eastern horizon. The drone died away. Tobias blinked. His eyes adjusted to the gloom. 

Katrine took her hands from her ears. “The guy who found the remains was flying a model aeroplane. He lost radio control. It crashed out there.” She waved towards the tent. “He was looking for a bit that broke off. He called the press and a television station as well as the police in Randers. Arsehole.” 

She’s trying too hard, thought Tobias with quiet amusement. She’s beside herself with excitement and trying to hide it. Those little skips when she thinks no one is looking. What age was she? Twenty-two? Twenty-three? What had he been like at his first crime scene, at her age? Did he also try to sound offhand and professional without succeeding? Probably. He took a forensics kit from the dashboard locker of the car. 

“He found a foot.” said Katrine. “A foot like a bog body foot. So he called every Tom, Dick and Harry. Police, newspapers, television.”

“Where is he?”

“Over by the Forensics van. He’s called Kenneth Skov. Inspector Haxen is talking to him.”

Tobias glanced over at the van. There was no mistaking Eddy Haxen’s skinny frame and mop of flaxen hair. He was talking to a stocky man in a leather jacket who had a remote control panel hanging from a strap around his neck.     

“The television guys called a professor from the university,” said Katrine. “Which is just as well because he stopped them walking all over the place and contaminating stuff before Forensics got here.”

“Where’s the professor?”

Katrine looked around. “I can’t see him. He might be in the tent. The guy talking to Eddy has been flying planes here for a while. The other one is his nephew. It’s some kind of nature reserve but they’ve got take off and landing rights.” She giggled. 

Tobias crouched to pull on a pair of overshoes and hide a smile. He stood up. The cameraman and the blonde in red spectacles sprinted towards him. Tobias ignored them. He stepped over a stretch of tape and tramped past the model plane towards the tent. The ground sucked at his feet. The tent glowed in the dusk. When he finally reached it and ducked inside, he was dazzled by a spotlight. When his eyes adjusted, he saw the forensics team – all four of them - on their knees examining a taped-off area around a slight hollow in the ground. He glimpsed a scattering of bones covered in what looked like spiders’ webs. A few metres away, Inspector Harry Norsk, the medical examiner, was standing over a folding table staring at a foot that seemed to be made of dark brown wood or leather, and a white skull. He greeted Tobias with an absent-minded wave.

“The foot is mummified. There’s a split in the skull. It could have been caused by a blow with something like a rock. But God only knows when. Could be anything between ten and two thousand years.” 

“Is this one for us or one for the archaeologists?”

Harry shrugged. “I can’t tell at this stage. We could be dealing with a bog body or with something more recent. I have no expert knowledge of how the bog affects bone and tissue, or anything else for that matter. You’re going to need a forensic anthropologist.” 

Eddy Haxen came into the tent.

“Hi, Boss. Will I let the plane buffs go? They seem shocked by it all.”

“Not too shocked to call up a television station,” said Tobias. “Where’s this professor?”

“Out there giving an interview to the press.”

Tobias tramped back across the bog to a pool of light in which stood the be-spectacled blonde pointing a microphone at a tubby man wearing the same blue protective clothing as the forensics team. 

“Strictly speaking,” said the tubby man with the air of a lecturer addressing students, “this is mostly fenland, not bog. Like a lot of fens, it’s on the edge of a bog and it looks and feels like bog but there’s a crucial difference. Bog peat contains humic acid. It preserves body tissue. Bodies decompose in fen peat. It won’t mummify bodies. But it has a high chalk content. It preserves bones.” 

A look of alarm crossed the interviewer’s face. 

“Can we keep it simple for now, Professor Brix? Why were these bodies buried in the bog, or fen?”  

“It was once assumed that some of them were sacrificial victims in a pagan, Iron Age ritual,” said the professor. “P V Glob famously posited that Tollund Man was killed in a ritualistic way.” 

“So this a ritual killing?”

Now it was the Professor’s turn to look alarmed. “I’m not saying that,” he said. “I’m just explaining one theory about Tollund Man.”

“So this is another Tollund Man?”

“I’m not saying that either,” said the Professor.  

“Have you found anything with the body? Anything from the Iron Age?” 

“One of the forensic team found a metal coin or button with what looks like a laurel leaf design. A laurel leaf typically.....” 

At which point Tobias intervened. 

“Chief Inspector Lange from Aarhus Criminal Investigation Department. I must ask you to stop recording,” he said. “This is now a police matter. We can’t divulge any more details at this early stage of the investigation.”

The blonde gestured to the cameraman and turned her attention to Tobias. “Are you investigating an Iron Age murder, Chief Inspector?”

“We don’t know what we’re dealing with at the moment,” said Tobias, uncomfortably aware he was now on camera. “All I can say is that human remains have been found here. We need to establish how long they’ve been in the bog. That could take some time. There’ll be a statement in due course. Now I must ask you all to leave.”

He took the professor by the arm and led him aside. “I’m sorry, but we have to do things by the book. The forensics team know what they’re doing.” 

The professor took a card from the breast pocket of his jacket and handed it to Tobias.

“Thanks,” said Tobias. “We’ll be in touch if we need you.”

The camera crew had packed up. The blonde called out, “Can you come into the studio, professor?” 

She threw a challenging glance at Tobias. “Do you have any objection to that, Chief Inspector?” 

It was now dark. Tobias shone his torch on the card. 

Professor Johann Brix

Forensic Anthropologist

Department of Forensic Medicine

University of Aarhus. 

“I’m afraid I do,” said Tobias. 

He tramped back to the tent and said to Harry Norsk, “I think we’ve found our man.” 


It was nearly ten o’clock when he got back to his flat. He was hungry. He could almost smell the roast pork loin, the cabbage with juniper and garlic, the roast potatoes, Inge’s apple pudding. Too late for all that now. He went pessimistically to the refrigerator. A curled up lettuce, three eggs, a dried up slice of ham in an opened plastic packet, half an onion in cling wrap and a nugget of crumb-embedded butter on a saucer. He had the makings of an omelette at least. He cheered up. An omelette was a proper meal. It justified a glass of decent wine. 

He laid the table beside the window leading to the balcony, adjusting the knife and fork to lie parallel to each other, equidistant from the sides of the table. He lit the single candle in the blue and white Royal Copenhagen pattern candlestick which sat in the dead centre of the table. The same candlestick had sat on the dining table in the house where he grew up. It had been ritually placed on the tiny fold-out table in the boat on which he spent endless weekends and holidays with his father after his mother died, because his father had not been able to bear being in the house without her. 

He selected a bottle of Macon Villages from the temperature-controlled wine cabinet above the refrigerator, unscrewed the cap and poured himself a glass. He took a sip, swilled it around his mouth, savouring the taste before swallowing a mouthful. He took the omelette pan from a cupboard and began to cook. 

He drank the Burgundy with the omelette. He washed up his plate, knife and fork and swept the remains of the lettuce into the compost bin. In the three periods in which he had shared his living space with a woman – including his ex-wife – he had found that they, not he, left dirty plates in the kitchen sink, scattered clothes about the bedroom, abandoned damp towels on the bathroom floor.  The last woman in his life, Anna, a librarian in Silkeborg, had tried to persuade him to move in with her. To live in her cosy house with its fat cushions and swagged curtains and scented candles everywhere. But on the occasions when Tobias had stayed there he had felt suffocated. He preferred the spareness of his own flat. She had called him a dried up stick. 

He poured himself a second glass of wine and carried it out to the balcony. He could just about afford the mortgage on the flat. It was worth it to be right in the centre of Aarhus. To see, over the rooftops, the cathedral spire soaring into the sky. To see below him in the space between the back of his own building and the next street, the neat gardens and patios of his neighbours with their budding lilac and cherry trees, their bicycles and their pots of tulips, his ground-floor neighbour’s lily pond with its miniature fountain spouting from dawn to dusk. Thank God it was Sunday night. On Fridays and Saturdays there was always noise from the bars and cafes in the surrounding streets, sometimes making him nostalgic for the student life he had briefly glimpsed and left behind. 

He watched his neighbour, Hilde, in the flat across from his balcony, moving about in her kitchen. He wondered if it was too late to telephone and invite her over for a nightcap. But that usually meant sex and he was enjoying being alone. He wanted to sip his wine and listen to music. Hilde was energetic and fun. She was married to the first officer on a cruise ship who was away from home for weeks at a time. She had exchanged glances with Tobias when they met in the street and, after several such encounters, had rung his doorbell on the pretext of asking him to help mend a fuse. He was both taken aback and aroused by the blatancy of her approach. She quickly abandoned any pretence of not being competent with fuses. She was more than competent in bed as well but she talked a lot and she liked Bruce Springsteen. Tobias was in the mood for something ordered and serene. Bach preludes, a Haydn sonata or a fugue by Arvo Part. Something cool and cerebral but full of beauty too. He stepped back into his flat. His phone rang. He picked it up and saw his daughter’s number on the screen.

“Hi, Agnes. What’s up?”   

“Hi Dad. I saw you on the news. Another Tollund Man, maybe? Hey, that would be exciting.” 

“Well,” Tobias sat down again at the table. “It’s a bit early to say. It’s not like Tollund Man. It’s a mummified foot and a pile of bones. We’ve no idea how long they’ve been there. We’ve sent the lot to a forensic anthropologist.”

“The fat guy who was interviewed? 

“That’s the one.”

“And you really have no idea how long the bones have been there?”

“Not really.”

“It might be the work of a serial killer.”

Tobias laughed. “You’ve been watching too much television, Agnes.”

“Well I hope the poor soul had some love in his or her life, whenever it was.”

Tobias thought that was a good sentiment.

“So what else have you been doing, Dad?”

“Well, I’ve met granny Inge’s fiancé, Norbert Fisker.”

“What’s he like? Aunty Margrethe thinks he’s after granny’s money.”

“He doesn’t need it. He’s rich. He has a lot more money than granny Inge,” said Tobias. “He seems nice. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s sixty-five but he still goes to work every day. He has a waste disposal company.”

“Landfill or incineration? How much recycling?” 

“I’ve only just met the guy, Agnes.” 

There was a pause. 

“I’m going on a protest tomorrow, Dad. I thought you should know.”

Tobias sat up. “What kind of protest? Where? What about.”

“They’re building a wind farm on the west coast.”

“So what’s the problem? You approve of alternative energy.”

“They’re cutting down a forest to build it. There’s no sense in that.”

Tobias thought there was probably a lot of economic sense in it, but he didn’t say so. 

“Magnus says there are other sites. They don’t need to cut down the forest. I just wanted you to know in case the police got heavy,” said Agnes.

“They won’t get heavy if you stay within the law.” 

Tobias heard a derisive snort. 

“The police get heavy whether or not we stay within the law,” said his daughter.

“What exactly are you planning to do on this protest?” Tobias was immediately sorry he’d asked. If she were planning anything illegal he would have to warn the police in Esbjerg. 

“Sometimes I wish you weren’t a policeman, Dad,” said Agnes. 

“This has nothing to do with my being a policeman,” Tobias said sharply. “It has everything to do with being lucky enough to live in a democratic country under the rule of law. It’s the duty of every citizen, and that includes you, Agnes, and your boyfriend, to uphold the law. I have to warn you not to break it.” To his own ears, he sounded like a prig.

After a few moments of silence Agnes said, “We’re not breaking any laws. Unless climbing tress is illegal.”

Tobias groaned. 

“Don’t worry, Dad. I’m not going to fall out of a tree. I’m going to be holding a banner at the bottom of a tree. Magnus is going to be in the tree. In fact he’s there already. He’s spending tonight in a tree in case they try to sneak the loggers in early.”

“I bet it’s cold and windy and you wish you were here.”

“It’s cosy in my tent,” said Agnes. Tobias could hear the smile in her voice.

“It’s not very cosy up a tree,” he said drily. 

“Magnus won’t be up the tree all night.” Agnes chuckled. “Aksel’s here. He’ll take his turn. And there’ll be others tomorrow.” Her voice changed. “You don’t like Magnus, Dad. You don’t like that he’s an activist.”

“I just wish he was a bit more active in looking for a job.”

There was a pause. Tobias said in a more casual tone, “No lectures this week?” 

“It’s half-term, Dad. Don’t you remember?”

Tobias smacked himself on the forehead. “Of course it is. Any chance of seeing you?”

“That ought to be the other way round, Dad. Last time we had a date for lunch you were called away, remember?”

“Sorry,” said Tobias. “It’s the job.”

“We’ll probably be here all half-term anyway,” Agnes said. “You might even see us on television.” She laughed, and rang off.

Tobias picked out a CD of Arvo Part and selected Fur Alina. Two minutes of perfection. He concentrated on each limpid, bell-like note. One hand, then the other hand, then two together. He’d played it for Hilde once. She had found it boring. When the last note sounded, he switched off the CD player and sat for a while picturing his brave, blonde idealistic daughter, wrapped up in a parka – he hoped she was wrapped up in a parka, it was probably blowing a gale on the west coast – standing vigil over a tree.


This is a web preview of the "Bogman" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App