Wednesday: Week One


Eddy Haxen and Harry Norsk were already at their desks drinking coffee and reading newspapers when Tobias walked into the Investigations room. He nodded a greeting to them. Katrine Skaarup was helping Karl Lund attach photographs to a folding screen at the other end of the room. The photographs had also been sent electronically to Tobias’s laptop. He could enlarge them at will. But he liked to see each photograph in the context of all the others. He poured himself a cup of coffee from the dispensing machine by the door and walked over to the display. He gazed at it for a moment before straightening three of the aerial photographs and standing back to take in the whole sequence. A dozen aerial shots showed an expanse of land with rough grass, clumps of bushes, narrow drainage channels, the pond, the taped-off area with the yellow and white plane looking as though it could take off at any moment, the white tent. There wasn’t a house in sight. A second sequence of photos showed the leathery foot, the skull and various bones with scale measurements. Tobias adjusted the photograph of the skull and stood back again. A third sequence, all straight he was relieved to see, included several images of the watch, the metal parts of a zip fastener, the four copper buttons, a metal buckle and the ghost of a pair of trousers. 

“Good morning, everyone.” Chief Superintendent Larsen bustled in. Eddy and Harry put down their newspapers and got to their feet. 

“It looks like we have a murder investigation on our hands,” said Larsen. “I take it there’s no possibility this death could have been accidental? Harry?”

“Not a chance. You can see in the photographs, the skull was cracked open. The forearm was broken in two places. Three ribs were broken. The small bones of the right hand were smashed. There is no way all that could have happened accidentally in marshy ground. He was beaten to death.”

“What do we know about the victim?”

“The remains are of a young male aged between 20 and 26. He was the same height as Chief Inspector Lange – give or take a centimetre. He was killed between 1986 and 1999.  It’s impossible to say if he was killed in the bog or somewhere else.” 

Tobias moved to stand beside the array of photographs on the screen. 

“Our theory is that the body was dumped in the pond and that water drained away, the pond got smaller, over time,” he said. “The spot where it was found is about 400 metres from where the track ends. As you can see, the track winds down from the road for about a kilometre. Then it splits. To the right, it continues for about 300 metres to a hut used by the model airplane club. To the left, it runs for only about 80 metres, widens a bit, and then disappears into the bog. But you can see from this photo,” Tobias indicated a line of white dots on a wide aerial shot of the track, “that this section was once about 100 metres longer.” 

“The regional planning office should be able to tell us when that part of the track was overgrown,” said Larsen. “You think the victim was killed elsewhere, driven to the bog in some kind of vehicle and carried from the track to the pond? To me that says two people, or one very strong person. Almost certainly male.”

“He hasn’t seen the new desk sergeant at Randers,” whispered Eddy. 

Larsen glared at Eddy. But his lip twitched when he turned away.  

“The victim was barefoot,” said Tobias. “That could mean he was already in the bog.”

“Or barefooted when he was carried there,” said Karl Lund. “We’ve not found any trace of shoes.”

“So tell me what you found,” said Larsen. “Anything useful?” 

“The team did a great job, Sir,” said Karl. “As you can see, Brix was able to assemble a complete skeleton from the bones. You can read his report. I printed out copies.” Karl pointed to a buff folder on the table. He turned back to the photographs. “We also retrieved a watch, a bracelet, four copper buttons, a metal badge or medal, most of the teeth from a metal zip fastener, a belt buckle and the remains of a pair of trousers. We should have photographs of the bracelet later today.”  

“Right,” said Larsen. “Any other clothes, or traces of clothes?”

“No obvious trace. We can analyse the peat for traces of fibres but I doubt we’ll learn anything useful.”

“What about DNA? Fingerprints?”

“We can try,” said Karl. “But there’s not much to go on. We’re going to drag the pond. It’s muddy on the bottom and too shallow for divers.”

“Right,” said Larsen. “Lange will lead the investigation.” He paused. “What’s the latest on the Danske bank robbery?”

“At least one member of the gang was sprayed with Smartwater when they exited the bank,” said Eddy. “We can’t get DNA from the van that was torched. We’re still looking for the car they switched to. If that’s got Smartwater DNA we might get a match and nail them. Alsing is liasing with Forensics on that.”

Eddy Haxen and Soren Alsing, the other chief inspector in the squad, had been working together on the bank robbery. 

“Right. Chief Inspector Alsing can stay with the robbery enquiry,” said Larsen. “You can work with Lange on this investigation, Haxen, with Skaarup in support as well. Lund and Norsk will liaise with Brix on forensics. Uniformed support as and when required. Follow the usual protocol for media enquiries. There’s been a lot of interest already. It would be good to get this one cleared up quickly, and preferably,” Larsen became emphatic, “without involving Copenhagen. This is now a national story. But I want it resolved here. I’m glad to see you are all nodding your approval of that sentiment.” He paused. “How soon will we get an identification? Lange?”

Tobias felt like saying the Superintendent’s guess was as good as anybody’s. Instead he said, “Skaarup has already begun a search. We can match age, height, sex, for a start.”   

The Superintendent gave a quick nod. “Right. I’ll leave you to get on with it.” The door swung closed behind him. 

“In Denmark alone,” said Katrine, “there are 50 males in that age group missing, not found, between 1986 and 2000.” 

“Good luck,” said Harry. “I’m off. Call me if you need me.”

“That goes for me too,” said Karl. “I’m going back out to Roligmose. I’ll let you know if we find anything in the pond.”

Eddy filled three cups of coffee from the machine. He handed a cup each to Katrine and Tobias.

“So, Katrine, fifty males missing in this country alone? They won’t all fit the profile,” said Tobias. “Who’s on the shortlist?” 

“I started with this region,” said Katrine. “Six of them disappeared in East Jutland, including a Swedish tourist who disappeared on a booze cruise here. The assumption was he got drunk and fell overboard.”

“Coming or going?” said Eddy. “Morning or evening?”

Katrine checked her notebook. “Morning. The eight o’clock sailing from Gothenburg to Friderikshaven. It arrives at 11.15.”  She stopped. “Drunk at 11 o’clock in the morning?”

“Definitely Swedish,” said Eddy.

“So you’re xenophobic as well as sexist,” said Katrine. “I heard your remark about the desk sergeant at Randers. Who happens to be a very nice person. She was at school with me.”

“Loosen up,” said Eddy. 

“Give it a rest,” said Tobias. “I can’t hear myself think. Go on, Katrine.” 

“Three are from Aarhus. One from Randers. One from Silkeborg. Of the remaining forty-four, one is from North Jutland, two from South Jutland. The others are all from North Zealand or Copenhagen and district.”

“We’ll divide them between us,” said Tobias. 

By lunchtime, they had narrowed the list to twenty males aged between seventeen and thirty, around six feet tall, who had gone missing in the time frame established by Professor Brix. 

“I need a break,” said Tobias. He stood up and stretched. “Your turn to get the coffee, Katrine.”

Eddy wandered over to the window and stood looking out at rain falling from a grey sky. 

“I’m glad I’m not dragging the pond,” he said. “I left the merchant navy because I hated getting wet.”

“Why did you join it?” asked Tobias.

“To see the world. I dreamed about the South Seas and girls in grass skirts with flowers around their necks. But I ended up sailing back and forwards between Esbjerg and Harwich, mostly in the rain. So I joined the police instead. Now I stand around in the rain instead of sailing in it. What about you?” 

“I was twenty-one, I was married with a child on the way. I had no money and I didn’t want to work for my father-in-law,” said Tobias.

“I wonder how many people join the police because they have a burning desire to uphold the law,” said Eddy.

They watched Katrine manoeuvre her way through the desks balancing three polystyrene cups of coffee.

“I bet Skaarup did,” said Eddy. “But she’s toughening up. She’s OK.” 

“We were all rookies once,” said Tobias. “But it feels like a long time ago.” 

He had the cup halfway to his mouth when the telephone rang. He set down the cup and picked up the receiver.

“Chief Inspector?” said Birgitte’s voice in his ear. “I have good news for you. The professor got a reply from Seiko. The watch was made in 1995.”

Tobias beckoned to Eddy and Katrine. They moved to stand by his desk, watching his expression as he listened to Birgitte.  

“I’ve cleaned the badge,” she said. “It’s enamel. Most of the colour has worn off. There are traces of green. And three raised letters. S S N. Maybe you can find out what they stand for?” She paused. “But I’ve got even better news.” Now there was a note of triumph in her voice. “I’ve cleaned the bracelet. There’s a date on it. 1997. It’s solid silver. One centimetre thick and fifteen centimetres in diameter. I’d say it was expensive, and almost certainly made to order by a silversmith.” 

“How can you tell?” asked Tobias.

“It’s hand engraved. The design on the outside is actually an inscription. It’s in Danish. ‘Encircled by your love.’ It was definitely done by hand, not a machine. There are initials on the inside, probably the silversmith’s. I’ve sent a set of images to you.” 

“Thanks, Birgitte.” Tobias put the phone down. He punched his fist into his palm. “Great. We have a lead on Bogman. The bracelet has a date on it. 1997. We can eliminate everyone who went missing before then. And that’s not all.”

He sat down at his laptop and enlarged the images Birgitte had sent him. “Take a look at this.”

Eddy and Katrine read the inscription over his shoulder.

“Encircled by your love,” said Katrine softly. “That’s beautiful.”

Tobias enlarged an image of the inside of the bracelet. “B H 1997, inside a circle,” he said. “Probably the initials of the maker.”

“So we’re looking for a jeweller or silversmith with the initials B H,” said Eddy. He was already halfway to his desk.

By six o’clock that evening, Eddy and Tobias had spoken to the Danish Design Centre, the Danish Jeweller’s Association and the Guild of Danish Silversmiths. They had checked the initials of every jeweller in the Danish Business directory and had found Benny Henriksen, Brigita Holm, Benny Hagen. None of them had created a silver bracelet inscribed, “Encircled by your love”, although all of them thought it sounded like a great design.

“Maybe they’re the victim’s initials after all,” said Eddy.

Katrine winnowed the list of missing males to five who went missing after 1997.    

“Three of them don’t have either a B or an H in their initials. One of them has H for Hans. Hans Meyer. But one has both initials. B H. Bruno Holst.”

She turned her laptop around so that Tobias and Eddy could see the full-screen image of a thin-faced, bearded young man in torn jeans and a t-shirt. He crouched beside a motorcycle with a spanner in one hand. He wore an over-large wristwatch. He looked surprised, as though he hadn’t expected to be photographed. 

“Bruno Holst, aged twenty-three when he disappeared,” said Katrine. “Six feet tall. A tecchie in an Internet service company in Randers. He lived with his girlfriend, Hanna Jensen, in a rented house. He left the house on foot on the evening of July 10th 1998 to go to a friend’s flat. Hanna Jensen reported him missing the following morning when she realised he hadn’t come home. He had no criminal record. There was no reason to suspect suicide. He was the father of a three-month old baby. He played a lot of computer games.”

“A geek,” said Eddy. 

“He doesn’t strike me as the kind of man who would wear a silver bracelet,” said Katrine.

Tobias frowned. “Why not?” 

She shrugged. “Like Eddy, says, he’s a geek.”

“So geeks don’t wear bracelets?” 

“I’ve met geeks who wear tecchie bracelets with gizmos on them, and over-sized watches like the one this geek is wearing,” said Katrine. “I’ve met good looking geeks and even sexy geeks. But I’ve never met a romantic geek. I’ve not met one who’d wear a bracelet with an inscription like “Encircled by your love.” 

Eddy whistled. “I’d no idea you got around so much, Skaarup.”

Katrine flushed. “I’m just saying Bruno Holst doesn’t look the romantic type.”

“Don’t close your mind to possibilities or jump to conclusions,” said Tobias. “People are full of surprises. You have to back up your assertions with something stronger than your dating experience with geeks.” 

Katrine flinched. She stuck her chin out. “It’s also an age thing. If you don’t mind my saying so, older romantics don’t wear bracelets either.”

“Older romantics?” said Eddy. “This guy was twenty-three.”

“Of course he’s not old. I meant as a general rule, older romantics don’t wear bracelets either.”

“She must mean you, Boss,” said Eddy. “All cynics are romantics at heart.”

“Who says I’m a cynic?” said Tobias. He grew brisk. “Who was the investigator?”

Katrine scrolled down the screen. “Pernille Madsen.”

Tobias had been at CEPOL, the police college outside Copenhagen, at the same time as Pernille Madsen. He remembered a tall, athletic blonde with a musical voice and a big smile. All of the male cadets, including Tobias who was already married, had fancied her. 

“I’ll find out where she’s stationed now, and give her a call,” he said. 


North Jutland Police District

Detective Pernille Madsen, Aalborg special investigations unit, took four plain postcards from her jacket pocket. On one of them she had written YES in block capitals, on another she had written NO, on the third she had written MAYBE, and on the fourth, DON’T KNOW. She placed the cards on the hospital bed-table in front of the patient propped up on pillows, hooked up to a drip, unable to speak because her upper and lower teeth were wired together to heal a broken jaw. Her left leg was in traction. She had three fractured ribs, and black, purple and yellow bruises on her left side and arm. Her left eye was a brown button in a duvet of yellow and black flesh. Her right eye was covered with a patch. 

Pernille said, in a low, calm voice, “I’m going to ask you a series of questions, Jolene.” Jolene? What kind of a name was that? Not the one on her birth certificate, that was for sure. Dolly Parton hadn’t been singing ‘Jolene Jolene’ when this one was born. Probably good-looking before her face was smashed up. “You can answer Yes, No, Maybe or Don’t Know by pointing to the appropriate card. The duty solicitor, Nils Soderborg, is here to witness your replies.” Did she understand? Was there a flicker in that button of an eye? “Do you understand, Jolene?”

A hand rose limply from the bed and pointed to YES.

Nils Soderborg, who looked as though he’d got dressed in a hurry, as indeed he had, finished tucking his shirt into his trousers, positioned himself by the bed, stifled a yawn and said, “My client answers, yes.”

“Good. We want to find the person who did this to you, Jolene. We’ll do our best to find him.” And lock him away for a long, long time. And throw the key into the canal. Pernille signalled to Detective Peter Lundquist on the other side of the bed to begin recording the interview.  

“Interview with Jolene Karlsson,” said Pernille, briskly. “Present are Detective Pernille Madsen, Detective Peter Lundquist and Nils Soderborg, lawyer for Jolene Karlsson. Did a man do this to you, Jolene?”

The limp hand again indicated YES. 

“Yes,” said Nils Soderborg.

“Was it your boyfriend?” 

Jolene pointed to NO. Nils Soderborg voiced it. 

“A client?”


“Did you pick him up in the street?”


“In a club?”


And so the interview proceeded. After forty-five minutes, a nurse slipped into the room.  

“Your time is up. We said half an hour. You’ve had more than that. The doctor is on his rounds. He’ll be here in a minute. You have to stop now.” 

“Five minutes,” said Pernille. “We’ll be five minutes. I’ll just summarise what we’ve learned so far. Then we’ll stop recording.”

“If that’s all right with Jolene,” said the nurse. She raised her voice. “Is that all right, Jolene? We don’t want you getting overtired.” 

Jolene lifted her right hand and pointed to YES.

“You met your attacker in The Vikings night club,” said Pernille, speaking quickly. “He wore casual clothes and looked to be in his late forties or early fifties. He said his name was Jon. He spoke to you in Swedish. You walked with him to the room you rent in the next street. You thought you were going to have sex but he said he just wanted to take photos of you naked. He took several photographs of you. When you asked for payment he hit you and banged your head against the wall. You fought back. He broke your jaw. He gagged you with your panties. He used your bra to tie your hands together. He spread-eagled your legs and tied your feet to the bed frame with strips of black cloth he took from a briefcase. He took more pictures of you with a smartphone. He punched you in the face. He stopped to take pictures. He punched you again. He raped you with his fist. You became unconscious. When you came round, you heard him taking a shower in the adjoining bathroom. You managed to get pull your hands free and untie your feet. You got out into the back alley but you fell. He followed you. He was dressed by this time. He kicked you. You heard a police siren. He stamped on your hand. He ran off. You lay in the alley until the refuse collectors found you and called an ambulance.”

Jolene pointed to YES.

“Jolene Karlsson says yes,” said Nils Soderborg.

“Fuck me,” said the nurse. 

Pernille, Peter Lundquist and Nils Soderborg had breakfast in the hospital café. 

“Poor bloody cow,” said Nils Soderborg. “I came in thinking it would be the usual drunken fight outside a club. A couple of young lads. Maybe an assault on a policeman or bouncer. I’ve not had something like this before.”

“You’re not long qualified,” said Peter Lundquist. “Give it time.”

Pernille smiled to herself. She was older than both of them. 

“Will she have any visitors, do you think? Has she anyone at all looking out for her?” asked Nils.

“Her pimp, I suppose,” said Peter. 

“We don’t even know her real name,” said Pernille. “Whatever it is, it’s not Jolene.” 

“People give their children all sorts of names,” said Nils. “I acted last week for a shoplifter whose child was called Nike.” 

“That’s a Greek name,” said Peter. “Meaning Winged Victory.” He was the star of a pub quiz team. 

“It was Greek to the shoplifter anyway,” said Nils. “Why would you call your child after a shoe?”

“Jolene is a Dolly Parton number,” said Pernille. “It wasn’t recorded until 1974. Our victim is forty-two. That’s what she told them in casualty, before they wired her jaw.”

“I bet you didn’t know that Pernille is a singer,” said Peter. “She sings with the Police Swing Band.” 

“Sounds offbeat.” 

“Arresting, even,” said Peter. 

“The next bad pun is going to cop it,” said Pernille. “I’m off.”   

She was playing back the recorded interview with Jolene when Tobias telephoned.

“Tobias Lange. What a surprise. I haven’t spoken to you in, well, I don’t know how many years.”

“It must be at least ten,” said Tobias, who remembered clearly his last glimpse of Pernille slipping into a bedroom in the Thon conference hotel in Oslo with a Swedish academic who had earlier given a paper on Crime and Ethnicity. 

“Oslo, 2002, I think,” said Pernille, whose memory was equally clear. “We bumped into each other at a conference. I saw you on television last week, looking much the same I have to say. I assume this call is something to do with the body in the bog?” 

“Correct,” said Tobias. “You were the investigating officer in the case of,” Tobias glanced at his notebook, “Bruno Holst, aged 23, reported missing in July 1998.”

“Remind me,” said Pernille.

“He worked for a technology company. He lived in Randers. His partner reported him missing when he didn’t come home from visiting a friend.”

“I remember,” said Pernille. “It was the first case I worked on after I was made Inspector. They had a child.” She paused, remembering the claustrophobic flat, the angry girlfriend and the crying baby. “We never got anywhere with the case. It turned out he never went to his friend’s place. As I recall, the friend wasn’t expecting him. My feeling at the time was he felt trapped and did a runner. They’d only been together a couple of months when she got pregnant, and...” She stopped. “Well, that was my impression anyway.”

Tobias had a memory flash. A tender, drunken encounter with Pernille in a club in Copenhagen after an exam at CEPOL, when he’d confessed to her he’d abandoned university and joined the police solely to support his girlfriend and his soon-to-be born daughter. She had disentangled herself and slipped away to rejoin a noisy group of cadets at the bar.

Now she said, “We made extensive enquiries. He had no criminal record. He had no debts. He didn’t do drugs. There was no suggestion he was seeing anyone else. He seemed like a typically introverted tecchie. You think he might be your victim?”

“It’s possible. He fits what we know. Male and aged between 18 and 29. He went missing around the right time. Between 1997 and 2000. We’re hoping to get a bit closer on the date.”  

“Good luck,” said Pernille. “You can call up the file on the case. If you want anything more, just let me know.”

“It would be a lot easier if he was our victim,” said Tobias. “He disappeared in the right area.” 

There was a pause. Tobias found himself reluctant to end the conversation. He wasn’t sure if what he was feeling was nostalgia, or residual tenderness for a woman he had fancied but couldn’t have. 

“So what’s keeping you busy these days, Pernille?”

“A bugger of a case,” said Pernille. “We had a body washed up on Saltholm. A female. Although you couldn’t have told at first. She’d been in the water for weeks. There was no one reported falling overboard from a boat. We checked with the coastguards and got an oceanographer to plot the tides and currents. He worked out she’d been dumped into the sea at Hamburg.” 


“That’s what we assumed. She had a lot of head injuries which we thought were from buffeting in the sea. Then our pathologist found there was no water in her stomach, no foam in her airways. She was probably dead when she went into the water. We finally identified her as a prostitute. Her fingerprints were on file in Hamburg. She was Russian. Ludmila Akulova. She’d been arrested for shoplifting. We got in touch with the police in Moscow. She came from a small town, but nobody had reported her missing. Not in Germany. Not in Russia.” She fell silent for a few seconds. “What a life.” 

“What a death,” said Tobias.

“Plus I’ve just been interviewing an assault victim,” said Pernille. “Another prostitute. Beaten up by a client. A really nasty piece of work. He gagged her with her panties and beat her to within an inch of her life.”

There was a pause. 

“How’s Karren? And your daughter? She must be grown up by now. She was a year old when you were at CEPOL, as I recall.”

“Agnes is nineteen,” said Tobias. He cleared his throat. “Karren and I divorced eight years ago.” Without being asked he added, “there was nobody else involved, on my part anyway.” He hesitated. “What about you, Pernille?” 

 “I married Erik Gunnersen. Do you remember him? He was a year ahead of us.” She paused. “We were married for six years and all that time he was seeing someone else.”

“Idiot,” said Tobias. “Him, I mean. Not you.”

There was a longer pause.

“Well,” said Pernille. “If there’s nothing else I can help you with, I’d better be getting along. I’m meeting someone for dinner.”

The gently bantering tone of their conversation changed to something more formal. Tobias thanked Pernille for her help. 

“I’ve just remembered one thing,” she said. “It might not be important. I saw a plane go over just now and that reminded me. Bruno Holst flew model aeroplanes in his spare time.”

Tobias sat up. “The guy who found the bones flew model airplanes. Do you have DNA?”

“There didn’t seem any point. We didn’t have a suspect or a body.”

“We do now,” said Tobias.


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