Read Missing in Malmö: The third Inspector Anita Sundström mystery (Inspector Anita Sundström mysteries) Online
Authors: Torquil MacLeod
The third Inspector Anita Sundström mystery
by Torquil MacLeod
* * *
Copyright © Torquil MacLeod 2013
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without express written permission of the Publisher.
Published by Torquil MacLeod Books
eBook edition: 2013
eBook conversion by
This book wouldn’t have been possible without the input of the following Swedes: Paula for all that jazz, Sigyn’s views of living in Britain, Göran for running a Swedish eye over the novel, Eva for taking me to the Moderna Museet, and, of course, Karin for useful titbits on Swedish policing and much besides. Again, liberties taken with police procedure are entirely mine.
I’d also like to thank Vanessa for medical advice, Fraser for restraining my use of extraneous Swedish information, Nick at The Roundhouse for another great cover design, and Calum and Sarah for their usual support. Last, but not least, I would like to thank Susan for all the toil she’s put in to make the novel work. It is far better now than when I first presented it to her.
I would also like to thank all those friends and readers who have encouraged me with their positive comments. It makes it all worthwhile.
To Corbyn. Always make sure you enjoy life.
MAP OF MALMÖ
It was like an explosion in the still night air. The sound reverberated round the unused wharfs and shabby warehouses, which, by 1993, were devoid of the vibrancy which had characterised the river Tyne for centuries. To him, there was no mistaking the noise. The sawn-off shotgun had just pumped its deadly contents into something – or someone – down below on the quayside. Shit! That wasn’t supposed to happen! He got a clear view through his night-vision binoculars. He could make out the horror on the face of the jeweller illuminated by the light above the gangway, but the rest of the scene was obscured by the security van. This couldn’t go wrong. It mustn’t.
His mind raced back to a brief half hour ago. Then, everything seemed to be working like clockwork. He had taken up his place on a deserted Ballast Hill Road. It gave him a perfect view of Commission Quay below. It was a clear night. The Tyne shimmered in the light of a striking half-moon. On the opposite bank, the lights of South Shields glowed in pockets among swathes of darkness. It was bright enough to make out the hulk of The Sentinel as it lay motionless at its berth. It was the only ship by the North Shields quay that night. The ferry terminal beyond was empty; its last occupant had left for Scandinavia a few hours earlier. In the other direction, he could see a cluster of small fishing boats bobbing on the incoming tide. Looming above them was the whitewashed tower of the Low Lights, which had once guided ships into the mouth of the Tyne.
He had known when the diamonds were to be taken off the ship – at a time of night long after the other British-bound cargo had been unloaded so as not to arouse any curiosity. The Sentinel had arrived from Holland that October afternoon. The consignment of diamonds was bound for a group of independent North East jewellers who had set up a consortium to buy directly from one of the top houses in Amsterdam. Combining their resources would guarantee a respectable discount on an otherwise inconceivable deal. And what a deal! He wasn’t sure of the amount, but it was supposedly upwards of four million pounds.
That’s why he had alerted Nicky Pew, one of the region’s more specialist villains. Pew was known to the police, but they had never been able to pin any robberies on him. From his large house in Darras Hall, an upwardly mobile enclave just north of Newcastle, Pew planned robberies with panache. He was careful that his crew carried out jobs well away from their home turf. His rule had always been that they do the job, get away as fast as possible and keep their heads down in the safety of their own back yard, while whoever was investigating the crime would hassle their own felons. But this one had fallen into his lap. It was too good to ignore. And rules were there to be broken.
Nicky Pew was an interesting character. A smart boy from a small town near Liverpool, he had gone to a minor public school and then university, where he wasted his time playing his crazy shit jazz before dropping out. He could have turned his hand to anything, but crime, which he carried out with aplomb, was his chosen route to riches. Even the cops had a grudging admiration for him. He was charming, sophisticated and utterly ruthless. Not a person to cross. But Pew had never actually killed anyone on a job. That’s why the shot was so alarming.
He didn’t have an intimate knowledge of Pew’s plan, but he knew the pick-up schedule. Two customs officers had arrived at ten and gone on board. Shortly afterwards, a white Mercedes belonging to the Newcastle jeweller, Quentin Myers, the consortium’s contact, pulled up close to the gangway. This was followed by an Imerson Security Services van with a driver and two guards. The driver stayed in the van while all the others went onto The Sentinel. The police had been informed out of courtesy, but had not been asked to supply any support. This was a private business transaction.
The handover was to take place on the vessel. He assumed that Pew and his gang wouldn’t carry out the robbery on the ship itself. Narrow corridors and umpteen cabins would make it a lottery. And once the diamonds were in the security van, the task would be even more difficult. The gangway was the weak point. He’d already heard the puttering of an outboard engine, so knew their escape route was across the river. They would then vanish into the wilderness of South Shields, where a getaway car would be waiting for them. By the time the police were alerted, they would be long gone. As he anxiously scanned the area, he had briefly caught sight of the inflatable dinghy, just before it disappeared under the lip of the quay wall, only a few yards from the ship. At the same time, what looked like a Ford Sierra had snaked down the incline and driven slowly past the Mercedes and security van, before turning back towards the parked vehicles. Then he had heard voices and turned his glasses onto the gangway. The two security officers had appeared first, one with a briefcase chained to his wrist. Behind him was Myers, the jeweller, and someone he hadn’t seen before – presumably the representative from the Dutch diamond house. He heard muffled voices and hoarse laughter then three masked men had appeared from the Sierra. One had a shotgun – he knew that would be Pew. He couldn’t see what happened next because of the van. Then came the explosive shot. His mind raced and he steeled himself to stay calm. Then he got the hell out.
Greta Jansson looked over to the door of the bar. Ulrika was late. Nothing new there. Greta hadn’t seen Ulrika since she had fled Uppsala, and now she wanted to put her old university friend straight about what had happened. Ulrika was down in Malmö for a meeting, and was fitting in a drink before she took a late flight back up to Stockholm.
Greta twirled her glass of chardonnay. The light liquid lapped against the side before settling down. This evening was important to her. It would be the first chance she had had to explain what she had done and, more importantly, why she had come south to restart her life. 2012 had been a bad year – the sooner she put it behind her the better. At first the situation she had found herself in had become irritating. Then more alarming. Finally, she had actually felt in danger, and had had to get away. Yet in the two months she had been in Malmö, she hadn’t been able to talk to anyone about it, other than the odd hint to colleagues. A fresh start meant that she was dealing with people who had no idea about her and her past. That was the attraction. They treated her on a blissfully superficial level because they weren’t encumbered with the knowledge of the emotional baggage that she carried around with her every day. Yet the disadvantage was that she had no outlets for the feelings that she couldn’t escape from, however hard she tried. Hence, her delight when Ulrika called and said she was making a flying visit to Malmö, and could they hook up when her meeting was finished? Ulrika knew the background, and the man that was at the epicentre of her problems. She would understand and sympathize. And, hopefully, Ulrika would endorse her decision to escape. The thought made her feel better. She was more relaxed than she had been for some time. She hadn’t even minded being chatted up by the young barman.
The place was filling up. Young professionals celebrating the end of the working week. A noisy group of men were laughing at one of their number. The joker. Her own life had been laughter-free for quite a while. But she liked her new colleagues at Kungsskolan, one of the city’s secondary schools. The teaching was tough as most of the kids didn’t understand why they had to learn English when many of them were struggling to get to grips with Swedish, the language of their newly adopted country. Not many of them would end up like the executives who were buying their expensive drinks in this Lilla Torg bar. Greta wasn’t sure what a modern Sweden had to offer her students. They were mistrusted. Misunderstood. Certainly they were a challenge, but one that she was starting to enjoy in a rather masochistic way.