Thomas Enger



Jocke’s Harley-Davidson is already there.

Tore Pulli parks his motorbike and removes his crash helmet. The gravel crunches when his feet touch the ground. The windows in the old factory stare blindly out into the darkness. The silence is dense and eerie.

Pulli hangs his helmet on the handlebars and walks across to the door. The hinges groan when he pushes it open. He enters warily.


His voice bounces off the walls. His boots slam against the concrete floor. Little by little his eyes acclimatise to the darkness, but all he can see is the naked floor and walls, beams and pillars wreathed in cobwebs. The October wind howls through the panes of broken glass. White clouds of frozen breath pour from his mouth.

It’s almost like the old days, Pulli thinks as he moves forwards. The build-up to the confrontation. He can feel the adrenalin pumping and he likes it.

His eyes are drawn to something lying on the floor deeper into the shadows. He approaches with caution and is met by a pungent smell of urine and metal. He steps in something slippery and has to take a step to the side to avoid falling over. He pulls out his mobile and uses it to light up the floor.

Then he sees what he trod in.

A body lies in front of him. The back of the bloodstained leather jacket has been slashed repeatedly. Above the collar the skull shines brightly through the shaven and tattooed scalp.

He recognises the tattoo immediately. Only Jocke Brolenius has Go to Hell tattooed on the back of his neck.

His mobile goes dark.

His eyes dart around and he pricks up his ears, but he hears nothing in the profound silence. The room appears to be empty — apart from Jocke‚ a man Pulli loathed with a passion, but didn’t want dead for anything in the world.

Or, at least, not now.

He bends down, grabs hold of the leather jacket and turns over the heavy body. The face is contorted and bloody, the mouth is open. Pulli presses two fingers against the artery on Jocke’s neck, but withdraws his hand at once. Though Jocke’s throat is warm, it is also soft and loose like a moist, mangled sponge.

Then he sees it, on the floor. The knuckle-duster.

His knuckle-duster.

How the hell did it end up here?

He is overcome by a horrible realisation. A lot of people knew about this meeting, and even more saw him set out for it. Far too many knew that the knuckle-duster hung on the wall in his study. And now he has Jocke’s blood on his hands, his clothes and his boots.

Someone has set him up. Some bastard has set him up.

Pulli is about to pick up the knuckle-duster and flee the scene, but he stops himself. You touched the body, he thinks. Your fingerprints are on Jocke’s leather jacket. Don’t make things worse for yourself; it’s bad enough as it is.

He takes out his mobile again. With bloodstained fingers he enters the number of the emergency services to call the police. You know what really happened, he says to himself. Tell them the truth and you’ll be all right.

You’ve got nothing to be scared of.


Chapter 1

Twenty-two months later

It’s always the same scream.

Henning Juul blinks and fumbles for the light switch. The sheet under him is wet and the air quivers with heat. He runs clammy fingers over the scars on his neck and face. His head is pounding with a bass rhythm which is pouring out from an open window in Steenstrupsgate. In the distance a motorbike roars as it sets off, then there is silence. Like the drum roll before an execution.

Henning takes a deep breath and tries to strangle the dream that still feels all too real, but it refuses to go away.

It had started off as a good dream. They had gone outside to play, Jonas and him. A thick layer of snow had covered the ground overnight. At the junction by Birkelunden Park the tramlines were reduced to just ruler-straight silver lines and they could barely make them out. The dense snowflakes were still dancing in the air, but they melted the moment they landed on Henning’s cheek.

He was pulling Jonas on the sledge down Toftesgate and into Sofienberg Park, where the children looked like ants on the small hill sloping down from the church. Jonas threw himself energetically from side to side. Henning was exhausted when they finally reached the top of the hill. He was about to sit down at the rear of the sledge when Jonas stopped him.

‘Not you, Daddy! Only me!’

‘Okay. But you know that means you’ll have to pull the sledge back up the hill all on your own.’

‘Yeah, yeah.’

‘Do you promise?’


Henning knew that the wet snowflakes had a longer lifespan than the promise Jonas had just made, but he didn’t mind.

‘Give me a push, I want to go reeeeally fast!’

‘Okay. Hold on tight. Let’s count to three.’

They counted in unison: ‘ONE! TWO! Aaaand THREEEE!!!’

And Henning gave Jonas a big push. He heard the boy squeal with delight as he got under way and noticed that the other children were watching him too, enjoying the sight of the little boy with the pale-blue woolly hat hurtling towards a jump which someone had built halfway down the hill. And Jonas reached it, gained some height, landed quickly and whooped as he turned the steering wheel to avoid colliding with a girl coming from the side. She turned around and followed Jonas with her eyes as he veered further and further to the left.

Towards the tree.

Henning saw it too, saw where Jonas was heading, his small fists gripping the steering wheel. Henning started running down the hill, but he lost his footing. He stumbled and rolled over couple of times before he managed to get back on his feet.

The snowflakes, the voices and the din faded into the background as Henning mouthed a scream, but no sound came out. He looked in desperation as the other parents who were also watching Jonas stayed rooted to the spot and did nothing to help him. In the end he closed his eyes. He didn’t want to see it when it happened. He didn’t want to see his son die. Not again.

And Jonas was gone. As were the hill and the snowflakes, the trees and the people. It grew dark all around him. The unmistakeable smell of smoke stung his nose. And even though he couldn’t see Jonas, he had no trouble hearing his cries. Henning waved his arms frantically to carve a hole in the darkness surging in front of him, but it

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