Welcome to day four of the Torquil MacLeod- Murder In Malmo blog tour, where it’s my pleasure to bring you a sneaky peek at the second in this compelling Scandinavian inspired series. I reviewed the first in the series Meet Me In Malmo which introduced us to Swedish detective, Anita Sundström, earlier this year, so pleased to see that she has returned. There are also an additional two books Missing In Malmo and Midnight In Malmo, so plenty for Scandinavian crime fiction fans to enjoy! So without further ado here is the extract…
It was a fine, clear, tranquil evening and there was nothing to hamper his line of fire. He could see the two women chatting animatedly. They waved their arms extravagantly as they spoke, to add emphasis to whatever they were discussing. Their actions were caught in the lights of the entrance to the drab block of apartments. The whole area was a sea of faceless, formless concrete. Unimaginative buildings filled with unwanted people.
Rosengård wasn’t a part of Malmö that he had been to before. It had taken him time to get his bearings. To get a feel for the urban terrain; his new war zone. And he was in enemy territory. These people weren’t his people. They were invaders from foreign lands. Intruders, like these two women in front of the apartment block who were now the centre of his attention.
He moved further behind the bush. No one else was around. He could hear snatches of music and voices coming from televisions because windows were open due to the warmth. He smelt the faint whiff of cigarette smoke from somewhere nearby; probably someone on a balcony. But he wasn’t worried about being spotted. He could deal with any situation. And he had his favoured large-calibre handgun, which gave him an automatic advantage.
Now the women seemed to have come to the end of their conversation. They looked as though they were about to part. He raised his gun and lined up his targets. Each of the women was wearing a brightly coloured hijab. Somehow it made it easier that he couldn’t see their faces clearly. He would need to shoot quickly as he wanted to hit them both. His finger hovered gently over the trigger. He steadied himself. There was now a gap between the women. He tensed.
Two shots. The women silently slumped to the ground. There was a shout from a nearby window, but he didn’t hear it. He was gone.
The mirror caught Tommy Ekman’s self-satisfied smile. The brilliant white teeth between open lips were the most obvious sign, but it was the sparkle in the cool blue eyes that really reflected the inner delight. Despite it being seven in the morning, his eyes weren’t fogged up with sleep. He had been lying awake for the last half hour. He had been thinking about her. Not his wife Kristina, who was staying over at her father’s country place near Illstorp, but Elin.
He took out his toothbrush and squeezed on some toothpaste. Must keep those teeth looking dazzling. The smile again. Yes, he had made love to Elin at last. Over his office desk. He had been trying to engineer the opportunity ever since he had employed her as an account executive six months before. She had rebuffed his advances for a while. ‘We’re both married,’ had been her defence strategy. He started to brush his teeth vigorously without ever losing sight of himself in the mirror. But last night he had breached her fortifications. His advertising agency had won that important pitch. Elin had led the successful team. They had broken out the champagne in his office. Others had slipped away over the next hour or so until they were the only ones left. Elin was a little high on her first big success with the agency. From then on, it hadn’t been that difficult to get into her knickers. Even he had been surprised at how easily she had succumbed. He would give her the rise he had pantingly promised her shortly before he had manoeuvred her onto his desk – but only as long as she was happy to provide “extracurricular” services to the boss.
Tommy rinsed out his mouth. He would still have to be careful with Kristina. He wouldn’t want her to find out. Her money was still useful – and her father’s business contacts. He didn’t want to rock the domestic boat, though he found it harder to make love to Kristina these days, despite the fact she was still an attractive woman. Maybe it was familiarity that had led to boredom on his part, or perhaps because she hadn’t been as interested in the physical side of their relationship since the kids arrived. But the business was doing well, despite all the economic doom-mongers. Still, he didn’t want her to take him to the cleaners.
Kristina’s father had been useful with the “group”, too. Given him a foot up. Now he had cemented his place with his strategy ideas. They had gone down very well. One of the suggestions had been acted upon within a week. And the film had been a real success. He was confident that he would be running the show very soon. Then the “group” would make people sit up. On this beautiful, sunny May morning, life couldn’t get any better.
He slipped off his pyjama bottoms and admired his naked figure in the mirror. He was still finely toned, despite all the client business lunches. And he still had stamina. Just ask Elin. Once aroused, she had been very accommodating. He was still laughing to himself when he stepped into the spacious wet room cubicle, closed the door and flipped on the shower. It sprang into life, and he tilted his head upward and enjoyed the hard spray of hot, refreshing water hitting his face. It was invigorating. As he soaped his body, his mind began to wander again. Back to Elin. It had been so exciting. That triumphant moment of conquest. He could feel the first stiffening in his groin. It was only as he put the soap back in its cradle that he became aware of a strange tingling in his throat. He looked down at the silver circular outflow cover on the floor beneath his feet. The water was running out as usual, but something didn’t seem quite right. His head began to swim and he started to feel giddy. His eyes were misting over.
Tommy flapped at the shower tap and the water stopped flowing almost immediately, except for a few final drops. He swayed in the cubicle, not sure whether he would be able to keep on his feet. What the hell was happening to him? With great difficulty, he managed to slide the cubicle doors apart. In front of him the bathroom was a blurred vision of dancing pale green and blue tiles. He stumbled out of the cubicle, still dripping wet. He tried to steady himself against the wash-hand basin, but his grasping fingers missed the edge and he sank to his knees as he retched up some dribbled green saliva and the remnants of last night’s champagne. Why was his skin so itchy? Frantically, he ripped at his arms and chest with his nails. With a huge effort, he half-staggered to his feet and fell forward towards the door of the bedroom. He didn’t make it and he sprawled on the bathroom floor. He tried to call out for help; not that there was anybody in the apartment to hear him at that time in the morning. But all that came out of his mouth was a fresh burst of vomit. The dizziness was sickening. He couldn’t fight it any longer. Why was this happening? His throat, his skin, his eyes, his head were all on fire. He lay in a heap on the floor. He could feel himself slipping into a void of unconsciousness. His limbs, totally independent of his fast-evaporating will, gave a last defiant jerk.
Rays of early morning sunshine speared through the frosted glass of the bathroom window like a prism and bathed the dead body of Tommy Ekman in a brilliant light show. Below the bulging eyes, his mouth was wide open; frozen in the moment in the cry for help that never came out. The sunlight made his teeth sparkle.
Michaela Lindegren yawned. She didn’t know why, because she had slept soundly all night. Normally, when Jörgen was away on business she would fret the night away, even though she knew he would be fine. Maybe it was insecurity. Now that the children had flown the nest, she had the house to herself, and that never felt quite right. During the day, she enjoyed the freedom. At night it was different. Jörgen was always considerate and phoned from wherever he was to make sure that she was all right. She always locked up carefully, but perhaps it was the size of the house that made her nervous. Lots of empty rooms. That’s why when Jörgen wasn’t there, she would have the radio on when she went to bed. Noise was reassuring. Often she went to sleep with it still playing and would wake up in a fright because she could hear voices. Come daylight, and all the fears would disappear, like the early-morning mist outside their seaside home. It was going to be another lovely day. And Jörgen would be back tonight. His flight into Kastrup Airport was due in the late afternoon.
Michaela wandered into the kitchen and fixed herself a coffee. Nice and strong. The perfect lift for the day. She missed having to make breakfast for the children. She had enjoyed the routine of fussing over them and making sure they had everything they needed for school that day. It gave her a role within the family. She was the organizer. Now there was very little to organize. Meals for Jörgen. Accompanying him to the theatre or one of his business functions. She had become a trophy wife without the requisite glamour. Home was her province. The other wives in their circle were far more sophisticated. They were up with the latest fashions, knew the names of the trendiest interior designers and chefs, and could drop into any conversation the expensively exotic locations where they had been on holiday, without the slightest hint of humility. Jörgen could afford to take her to anywhere she wanted, but she was a home bird and he travelled so widely in his work that she was content to stay in Sweden. So they usually went to the island of Öland, or even closer to home in Österlen, which wasn’t much more than an hour’s drive from Limhamn.
After another coffee and a light breakfast – she wanted to save herself for the special meal she was cooking to welcome Jörgen back – Michaela wandered down the corridor to the front door where she picked up the morning newspaper. She would have a quick read of it before heading off to the shops. She walked into the living room. The curtains were drawn. As she opened them, a weak sun was trying to penetrate the sea mist. Soon it would burn it off and it would be a lovely day. Then the wonderful, sleek lines of the Öresund Bridge, the link between Sweden and Denmark, would emerge.
It was as she turned from the window that she instantly knew something was wrong. For a moment she couldn’t put her finger on it as she stared at the opposite wall. She suddenly found herself gasping for air. It couldn’t be. She steadied herself against the table. She looked again. There was no denying it. What was Jörgen going to say? She was now feeling faint. However hard she stared, it wasn’t going to bring it back. It had definitely been there when she went to bed last night.
This morning it was gone.
Torquil MacLeod was an advertising copywriter for 36 years. Born in Edinburgh, he now lives in Cumbria, with his wife, Susan. He came up with the idea for his Malmö detective, Inspector Anita Sundström, after the elder of his two sons moved to southern Sweden in 2000. MEET ME IN MALMÖ (originally planned as a film script) was published in hardback in 2010. All four Malmö Mysteries are now available as ebooks – the latest being MIDNIGHT IN MALMÖ. The first three (‘Meet me in Malmö’, ‘Murder in Malmö’ and ‘Missing in Malmö’) are being published as paperbacks this year through McNidder & Grace Crime. He has also brought out an historical crime ebook called SWEET SMELL OF MURDER, which is set in the Georgian England of the 1750s. Torquil still makes regular trips to Malmö and Skåne to visit his Swedish family and friends. And he is working on further Anita Sundström stories. Find out more here
Visit Torquil MacLeod’s Amazon author page here