Friday: Week One


Tobias carefully arranged the photographs of the skull, bones and mummified foot to make a complete skeleton in the centre panel of the screen. He closed the other two panels. He straightened the photograph at the top. A white skull with a fan of white teeth, and black holes where once there had been eyes and a nose. He stepped back and stared at it. 

“Who are you, Bogman?” he questioned silently. “Who killed you? Why?” 

The skull grinned back at him. 

“‘Encircled by your love.’ Who felt like that about you?” 

He had given Karren a silver bracelet for her twenty-first birthday, not long after they were married. He couldn’t afford gold. He’d noticed Agnes wearing it a few times. He supposed Karren had given it to her. Not wanting to wear the memory of a marriage gone sour. 

The file on Bruno Holst had arrived on his desk. He squared the buff coloured folder and opened it. Pernille had stuck a post-it note to the opening page. “Nice to be in touch again. Good luck. P”. He tidied the note into the section of a desk drawer in which he filed personal notes and reminders. He read each page in the folder. Bruno Holst and his girlfriend had a three-month old baby girl. What age would she be now? He sat back and closed his eyes, remembering Karren’s angry shouts, four week old Agnes crying in her cot, the bills spread out on the kitchen table, his overwhelming impulse to run out of the flat and take great gulps of air. He was unaware of the background noise in the office, of Katrine’s curious stare at his closed fingers clenched against the edge of the desk. He opened his eyes. He flicked back through the file to the statement by Bruno Holst’s mother, Hannelore Schmidt. The marriage was unhappy, she’d said. But she was sure her son would not have killed himself. She had no idea where he was. She’d given her statement to police in Germany. She had re-married and moved to Berlin some years before Bruno went missing. There was an address and a telephone number. On an impulse, Tobias picked up the telephone and tapped out the number. A woman’s voice answered.


Tobias, in German, asked to speak to Bruno Schmidt. 

“Wer spricht?” 

Tobias said he was from the flying club and was calling about a model airplane.

Hannelore Schmidt tutted annoyance and said she didn’t know why he had given her number when he knew he was only staying with her for a few days. She dictated Bruno’s mobile phone number and said a brisk goodbye.

Tobias dialled the number she had given him. 


“Bruno Schmidt?”


“Bruno Holst Schmidt?”


“It is not a criminal offence to run away from your girlfriend and your child,” said Tobias. “It is, however, a criminal offence to withhold information from the police. I am a police officer investigating a murder committed around 15 years ago. Are you Bruno Holst who went missing from Randers fifteen years ago?”


“The body of a man was found in East Jutland on Monday. The body fits your description. I merely want to establish that you are not the victim. That you are alive.”

“I’m alive,” said Bruno Holst. 


“So we’re no further on than we were yesterday.” Eddy stared despondently at a yellow crane hovering idly over an empty dock in the harbour. 

“On the bright side,” said Katrine, “Bruno Holst’s case is closed and there’s one less person on the missing list.” 

“Big deal,” said Eddy. 

“At least I’m getting on with stuff. I’m working my way through the petitions to the Planning Department. From the model airplane club and from a hunting club. Checking the names and addresses against missing persons. Apart from Bruno Holst, no match so far.”

“No surprise, and not much use,” said Eddy. 

“Not much use being negative either,” said Katrine.

Harry Norsk, Karl Lund and Professor Brix arrived for a three o’clock briefing. They gazed silently at the skeleton, now flanked by photographs of the watch, the bracelet, the buttons, the badge, the gossamer trousers and aerial photographs of the bog. 

“We know Bogman was aged between 20 and 28 and was about 1 metre 70 tall,” Tobias began. “He wore a Seiko watch, an expensive silver bracelet and an enamel badge, presumably pinned to his shirt or jacket, with the letters SSN. The jacket had vintage Levi buttons and was most likely made of cotton denim. His clothing was cotton or wool, except for his trousers which contained some polyester. He was probably in bare feet when he was beaten to death. Why wasn’t he wearing shoes?”

“Maybe he wasn’t barefoot,” said Harry. “Maybe he was wearing some kind of canvas shoe that decomposed.” 

“He wore mostly cotton,” said Katrine. “He might have had concerns about the environment. Maybe he was a vegetarian. Some of them won’t wear leather shoes.”

Tobias nodded. “Good thought. Suppose he was wearing something like canvas deck shoes, or espadrilles? Would they have decomposed, Professor Brix? ”

“The left shoe, if it was biodegradable, could have decomposed. You might find metal eyelets if it was a shoe with laces, but not if it was all cotton and rope, like an espadrille. On the mummified foot, I’d expect to find something. But there wasn’t even a microscopic trace of any material on it.”  

“Why would he be barefoot?” asked Eddy. “Was it summer? If he was killed in the bog, what was he doing there?”

“Maybe he was flying a model plane,” said Harry. 

“The petition from the flying club to the Regional Council, about access to the bog, is dated 23rd June 1998,” said Katrine. 

“That fits the time frame for the murder,” said Tobias.

“I’ve spoken to all the signatories except for six who have moved away. I’m still tracing them. The ones I’ve spoken to all say the same thing. They don’t recall any member of the club going missing. Two of them think they remember Bruno Holst. But people came and went all the time. Just like Kenneth Skov said.” 

Professor Brix glanced at his phone and slipped out of the room.

“What was the reason for restricting access to the bog?” asked Tobias.

“Otters,” said Katrine. “Conserving the otter population. The flyers won their appeal.” 

“Maybe he was hunting otters. Or trying to photograph them,” said Karl.”

“The hunting club lost their appeal,” said Katrine. “The club was disbanded afterwards.” 

“Did they have a badge or logo?” asked Tobias.

“There was a shield with Randers and District Sporting Association on the letter header. The letters on the shield are R D S A.” 

“The letters on the badge are S S N,” said Tobias. “Let’s assume Bogman belonged to, or supported some kind of club, or team or organisation with those initials.” 

“There’s nothing I can find in this country with those initials,” said Eddy. “Nothing with a website, nothing on any list of organisations. There’s a Dutch economic association, an American publishing company and a Norwegian bank. They all have the initials S S N.”

“Contact all of them. Find out if they have a member or employee who went missing,” said Tobias. “It’s unlikely. But we should cover all possibilities.” He paused. “Let’s concentrate on the bracelet. Who gave Bogman the bracelet?”

“A girlfriend or wife. Someone who loved him enough to give him an expensive bracelet engraved with “Encircled with your love,” said Katrine.

“But she didn’t report him missing,” said Eddy. “If she loved him that much, why didn’t she report him missing? What about the Swede who went overboard?”

“He doesn’t have either of the initials on the bracelet,” said Katrine. “Only one missing male who fits the profile has either of those initials. H. Hans Meyer. Went missing in July 1998.”

“Maybe the letter B is his girlfriend’s initial,” said Eddy. 

“There’s no mention of a girlfriend in his file.”

“So maybe he’s an arse bandit,” said Eddy. 

“I’ll check if he had a male partner,” said Katrine.

“Girlfriend, boyfriend,” said Tobias. “It makes no difference. The point is, whoever gave Bogman the bracelet didn’t report him missing.”

“Maybe they’d split up,” said Katrine. “Maybe he’s not Danish. I’ll check Interpol for missing persons as well.”

“Maybe he or she killed him,” said Eddy.

Professor Brix came back into the room. He was bouncing with satisfaction. “Birgitte has cleaned and identified coins found when the pond was dragged,” he announced. “Two kroner,” he paused. “And two Swedish decimal coins dated 1997 and 1994.” 

“A Swedish silversmith,” said Eddy.

“Or victim,” said Katrine. 

“I’ll tell Larsen,” said Tobias. 


“A foreign national,” said the Chief Superintendent. “That’s all we bloody need. A foreign bloody national.” He drummed his fingers on the desk. “Can you be sure there are no missing Danish nationals who fit the victim profile?”

“None that has been reported missing, Sir,” said Tobias.

“Any other reason, apart from the coins, to indicate he’s Swedish?” 

“Not yet. The letters on the badge don’t fit any organisation, here or anywhere else in Europe. We found Danish as well as Swedish coins. He could be a Swedish national reported missing in Sweden but not in Denmark. Presumably because no one knew he was here.”

“No one knows anything, as far as I can see,” said Larsen. 

Tobias knew better than to say they knew more than they’d known at the beginning of the week.

“Get in touch with the Swedish police. I’ll speak to Foreign Affairs,” said Larsen. “But if any Swedish nationals went missing in Denmark, I’d expect the name to be on every region’s list of missing persons. That kind of thing is always circulated.” He glanced at the clock. “They’ll all have gone home. And it’s Friday. Well, the poor bugger has waited fifteen years to be found and identified. He can wait until Monday. Enjoy the weekend, Lange. Anything planned?”

“I’m going to a charity event, Sir,” said Tobias. “Raising money for street children in the Philippines and a drop-in centre here.”

“Good, good,” said Larsen. “The commissioner likes us to get involved in charity work. That reminds me. Did Immigration find that woman Skaarup and Haxen let slip out of their hands at the hospital?”

“I’m nor sure, Sir.” 

“Keep an eye on it, would you? She might be an illegal, but an assault is an assault and I don’t like it on my patch.”

Katrine and Eddy had already left when Tobias emerged from Larsen’s office. He picked up the telephone and tapped in Peter Karlssen’s number in Immigration. 

“If you mean the Filipina who was dumped at the Assault Centre, the one called Girlie, your lot aren’t the only ones in trouble over that. I’m in the doghouse as well,” Karlssen told him. “We searched the hospital and found her hiding in a storeroom in the basement. We took her back to the Assault Centre. The doctor said she was too weak to be interviewed. I was waiting for uniform branch to turn up and keep an eye on her. I can only have turned my head for a couple of seconds.”

“You mean a nurse turned your head.” Tobias had worked with Karlssen before. “You were chatting up a nurse.” 

“OK. I was chatting to a nurse. Long legs, big tits. We were only a few metres away. I looked in to check on her and she was gone. Vanished. Searched the hospital again. Gone. I got a right bollocking for it. ”

“Are you still looking for her?”

“We’re checking the usual places. Refugee support centres, homeless charities. Nobody knows anyone called Girlie. Officially, we’re still looking. Unofficially, I think she was working in an illegal brothel. We could go looking for it but what’s the point? We have enough work on our hands.”

“Let me know if she turns up,” said Tobias. “Have a good weekend.”

He telephoned Pernille Madsen. There was no answer. He sent an email: “You’ll be interested to know Bruno Holst is alive and living in Germany. Your instinct was correct. I’ve amended the file. Tobias.” 

The evening stretched out in front of him. He wondered if his father’s dinner jacket would still fit him. He hadn’t worn it since his stepsister Margrethe’s wedding party in London. He could ask Hilde to tell him if he looked all right in it. That would make a change from the usual invitation to join him for a glass of wine. Same message, different code. He took his mobile phone from his pocket. 

“Hi, Hilde. Can you take a look at a dinner jacket I’m having to bring out of hibernation?”

“Sure,” said Hilde. “Bring it over tomorrow morning around ten o’clock. Erik’s here, which was a nice surprise for me. He’ll give you an honest opinion as well.” 

So her husband had come back earlier than expected. He was almost certainly in the room with her, maybe able to overhear the conversation as well.

“Thanks, Hilde,” said Tobias. 

He felt unsettled. He’d been relying on the energetic Hilde to fill his evening. He glanced at the sky. It would be dark in an hour. There wasn’t the time to drive out of the city and play a few holes of golf. He saw he had a text message from Eddy. “Outside bar Friederiskgade. Join us?”

His spirits lifted. He fancied a bit of company. He could probably persuade Eddy and whichever woman was with him – Tobias could not keep up with Eddy’s chronic pursuit of unsuitable women – to go somewhere quieter than one of the noisiest streets in Aarhus. 

It was a dry, sunny evening. The wind ushering high clouds across the sky had a hint of warmth in it. The riverside bars and cafes were filling up. He found Eddy sitting outside a bar contemplating a pint of lager. Tobias looked around. The other outside tables were occupied by couples. 

“Who’s ‘us’? I thought you were with someone.”

“Skaarup’s inside,” said Eddy. “There’s a Swedish Country Band playing tonight. They haven’t started yet. The bar manager is Swedish. He says there’ll definitely be Swedes turning up to hear the band. Katrine thinks there’s a chance some of them, or one of the musicians, might recognise the badge. Good idea, isn’t it?” He grinned and raised his glass. 

“You can buy me a Pils,” said Tobias. 

Inside the bar, Katrine was seated at a table, trying to get a half-sober Swedish musician to look again at the picture of the badge. He didn’t speak Danish so they communicated in English.

“It is a little familiar,” he said, with reasonable enunciation. “But I don’t know what it is. Will you have a drink?”

“Try to remember. Is it the badge of a football team? Or a Sports Club?”

The musician shook his head. He had reddish blond hair that tumbled to his shoulders. 

“I think I saw it somewhere, maybe a long time ago,” he said. “But I don’t remember where. My name is Dusty Svenson. What is your name?” 

Katrine handed him a card with her name, rank and mobile phone number.

“Call me if you remember,” she said.

“May I call you even if I don’t remember?” said Dusty Svenson. He winked, slid the card under his glass on the table, picked up the guitar he had put to one side and began to pick out a tune.

Katrine pushed back her chair and stood up. “We’re investigating a murder,” she said sternly. “We don’t know the victim’s identity but we have reason to believe he might be Swedish.” 

Dusty Svenson put aside his guitar. 

“He was beaten to death about twelve or thirteen years ago,” said Katrine. “We need to find out who he was and who killed him. He was wearing this badge when he died. You said you might have seen it before.”

Dusty closed his eyes and beat his fists against his head. “It’s no good. It will not come to me. If I remember, I call you for sure.” He stowed the photograph in the inside pocket of his jacket. “Good luck.”

Eddy was standing at the bar. Katrine joined him. 

“I’ve shown the badge to every Swedish person here. I’ve pinned a photo of it up there.” She pointed to a notice board on the wall. 

The barman slid two glasses of beer towards Eddy. 

“The boss is waiting for his beer,” said Eddy. I’ve bought you one as well, Skaarup.” 

They went outside. 

“Well done, Skaarup,” said Tobias. “Good thinking.” He raised his glass in salute. “Cheers.” 

From inside the bar came the sound of a band tuning up. 

“I like country music,” said Eddy. “Gambling, cheating, drinking, jealousy, murder, loss.” 


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