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The Long Shadow

A Novel
By Liza Marklund

Read an Excerpt

The Long Shadow

NUEVA ANDALUCÍA, TIME: 0314


The night was pitch-black. She could just make out the orange trees lining the road as black shadows on the edge of her vision. Three cats’ heads stuck up out of a rubbish bin, the headlights catching their eyes.

The rain had stopped, but the tarmac was still wet and shiny, reflecting the light from the streetlamps. She had the car window wound down and was listening to the wet hiss of the tires on the road surface, the crickets chirping, the wind rustling the trees. The air coming through the window was chill with damp.

It was as peaceful as could be.

She braked and stopped uncertainly at a crossroad. Was this where she was supposed to turn left, or was that the next one? She was clutching the steering wheel in a cramped ten-and-two grip. All this random building work; they didn’t have any planning regulations, no town planning, and therefore no maps. Not even Google Earth had been able to help with these new districts.

Well, this must be it. She recognized the golden knobs at the top of the gate to her right. Everything looked so different in the dark.

She put the indicator on so that the truck behind her could see which way she was heading.

The two vehicles were driving with dipped headlights; anything else would have been impossible on such terrible roads. And a car with no lights would arouse more suspicion than one with headlights on. She swerved to avoid a large pothole in the middle of the road, then checked in the rearview mirror that the driver following her did the same.

Then the car’s headlights swept across the gateway at the edge of the neighborhood, an overblown affair in black wrought iron with a pair of concrete lions on either side of the gates. She felt her shoulders relax in relief. She quickly tapped the code on the pillar below one of the lions, and the gates shuddered and then slid open. She peered up at the night sky.

The clouds had rolled in from Africa during the afternoon and settled like a thick blanket over the whole coast. Somewhere behind them was a full moon. She noted that the wind was picking up and hoped they’d be finished before the cloud cover started to break.

The roads inside the gates were, in marked contrast to those outside, smooth, with perfectly edged pavements and hedges that were absolutely straight. She passed three turnings before she swung off to the right and carried on down a slight hill.

The villa was off to the left, with its terraces and pool facing south.

She drove some ten meters past the house, parked by the pavement in front of a vacant plot, and waited patiently as the truck driver pulled up behind her.

Then she took her briefcase, locked the car, went over to the truck, and clambered up into the cab.

The men looked focused, slightly sweaty.

She pulled on a pair of latex gloves, then took out the syringes for the injections and attached the first needle.

“Lean forward,” she said to one of them.

The man groaned quietly and obeyed; there was hardly room for his fat stomach under the dashboard.

She didn’t bother cleaning the area on his buttock, just stabbed the needle quickly almost the whole way into the muscle and injected the liquid.

“There you go,” she said as she pulled it out. “Start getting the stuff out.”

She moved so the fat man could get out. Then she sat next to the driver.

“And this is better than gas masks?” the driver asked, staring in some trepidation at the needle in her hand.

He spoke relatively good Spanish, but of course Romanian was also a Romance language.

“I’m going to be having one as well,” she said.

He unbuckled his belt, put his hands on the wheel, and leaned forward so that she could get at his backside.

“It stings,” he said.

“Don’t be such a baby,” she replied.

Then she pulled up her skirt and stuck the last syringe into her own thigh.

“And you only want the safe?” the man asked as he opened the door and got out of the cab.

She smiled, leaned down over the briefcase, and put two one-liter bottles of San Miguel into the little cubbyhole between the driver’s and the passenger’s seats.

“Only the safe,” she said. “The rest is yours. Help yourselves.”

The driver looked at the bottles of beer and laughed.

The fat man had already got his tools and the tubes out, and had put them all down beside the entrance.

“And you can guarantee that this is going to knock them out?” he wondered, looking at the canisters with a degree of suspicion. They didn’t look like they usually did.

He looked up at the house as the full moon peeped out between a gap in the clouds. They needed to get going.

She concentrated and tapped in the code. The panel on the alarm turned green, and the lock on the gate opened with a click.

“Oh yes,” she said. “It’s guaranteed to knock them out.”

TT News Agency, 09:13.

URGENT

ATTORNEY GENERAL DEMANDS JUDICIAL REVIEW OF TRIPLE MURDER CASE

STOCKHOLM (TT) On Monday, Attorney General Lilian Bergqvist will submit a request for the judicial review of the case against the so-called Ax-Murderer, financier Filip Andersson, TT has learned.

Filip Andersson was sentenced to life imprisonment for three brutal murders on Södermalm in Stockholm. He has always maintained his innocence.

“In December last year, once the real murderer was killed, Filip Andersson was finally able to tell the truth,” says his lawyer, Sven-Göran Olin. “Filip’s sister, Yvonne Nordin, carried out the murders.”

Almost four years ago Filip Andersson was found guilty in both the City Court and Court of Appeal, and received the maximum sentence available for three counts of murder, blackmail, extortion, and desecration of a grave. All three victims, two men and a woman, were mutilated during the attack.

The evidence against Filip Andersson was regarded as weak even during the previous trials. He was convicted on the strength of a DNA trace from one of the victims found on his trouser leg, a fingerprint on a door handle, and an unpaid debt.

The attorney general’s submission to the Court of Appeal will summarize the evidence the prosecutors are planning to present.

(cont.)

© TT News Agency and the author of the article.

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