Detective Inspector Huss - By Helene Tursten & Steven T. Murray
THE PATROL CAR WAS the first to arrive on the scene. The ambulance came a scant five minutes later. As far as the ambulance medics could tell, there wasn’t much for them to do. The two police officers attempted to hold back the sensation-hungry spectators who suddenly were stoic enough to defy both wind and rain. One of the officers got into the car and called for backup.
“Send the crime scene team to the corner of Aschebergsgatan and Molinsgatan. A guy jumped from the fifth floor. Looks like it’s that big-time businessman, Knäck-something-or-other. His wife and son are here, in shock. We need another ambulance for them. Oh, I see . . . von Knecht.”
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDENT Sven Andersson had just reached his old Volvo 240 and was putting his key in the lock when he heard a familiar female voice shouting, “Sven, wait! Case in progress!”
Annoyed, he turned to her and sighed. “What is it now?”
The detective inspector’s voice revealed a slight hint of titillation when she said, “Richard von Knecht jumped off his balcony!”
“Richard von Knecht! The Richard von Knecht?”
“Yes. It sounds unbelievable. Was there a stock market crash or something?”
“Hop in the car. Did you get an address?”
THE RAIN was pouring down, and the superintendent had to put his windshield wipers on high to be able to see out. Göteborg was really living up to its nickname of “Soaking-borg.” The week before there had been total winter chaos with half a meter of snow; the whole city had been paralyzed for several days. The result would undoubtedly be a high birth rate the next August. Now it was a few degrees above freezing with not a snowflake to be seen.
Detective Inspector Irene Huss phoned her teenage daughters and told them that she’d be late. They were used to it by now, after her many years with the Crime Police. They promised to take the dog for a walk and feed him, and to let their father know. Krister was no doubt used to it, too. As was usual, he would make a good dinner for his daughters. Everything had been organized to run smoothly in the family, even without her help.
She must have sighed audibly, because Superintendent Andersson turned to her and asked, “Is something bothering you?”
“No, nothing. It’s depressing weather. Depressing, with scattered suicides. Depressing. Depressing!”
The superintendent nodded in agreement and stared gloomily at the black rain being flung against the windshield by the gusty wind. He broke the silence and asked, “How could Dispatch be so sure that it was really Richard von Knecht who jumped?”
“According to the officer on duty, the wife and son were down on the street. Apparently, it was the son who called the police.”
“Do you know what floor he fell from?”
“No, but it seems it was high enough.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes. At last the superintendent cleared his throat and asked, “Do you know anything about Richard von Knecht?”
“What most people know. Aristocratic family, and wealthy. Talented businessman, stock market speculator, and one of Göteborg’s biggest celebrities. According to Aftonbladet’s financial section he’s a business genius, but my husband says he’s just had incredible luck.”
“Is Krister an expert on business and the stock market now, too?”
“No. Although he does own twenty shares of Trygg Hansa, which he received as a bonus when they reorganized a few years back. He’s still the chef at Glady’s Corner.”
“That’s supposed to be a great place. Very trendy, I hear.”
Through the slapping of the windshield wipers they could now see the flashing blue lights of the emergency vehicles. The crime team was there and had blocked off a large area. The site of the body’s impact was illuminated by a soft light streaming from the glass in the front entrance of an exclusive menswear store. The door was set into the corner of the building’s granite foundation. Superintendent Andersson had a vague memory that there had been a pharmacy on this spot when he was a boy. But he wasn’t quite sure, since he had grown up in Masthugget, the neighborhood that was torn down during “urban renewal” in the sixties.
Above the door the corner extended into an oriel. There was an oriel on the corner of each floor, whose bay windows faced in three directions, except for the top floor, which sported a balcony crowned by a turreted roof. It was from there that Richard von Knecht had plunged to the street. Superintendent Andersson let his glance pass over the remains,