“Oslo,” the man said, raising the glass of whiskey to his lips.
“That’s the place you love the most?” Lucille asked.
He stared ahead, seeming to think about his answer before he nodded. She studied him while he drank. He was tall; even sitting down on the bar stool next to her he towered above her. He had to be at least ten, maybe twenty years younger than her eventy- wo; it was hard to tell with alcoholics. His face and body seemed carved from wood, lean, pure and rigid. His skin was pale, a fine mesh of blue veins visible on his nose, which together with bloodshot eyes, the irises the color of faded denim, suggested he had lived hard. Drunk hard. Fallen hard. And loved hard too, perhaps, for during the month he had become a regular at Creatures she had glimpsed a hurt in his eyes. Like that of a beaten dog, kicked out of the pack, always on his own at the end of the bar. Next to Bronco, the mechanical bull that Ben, the bar owner, had taken from the set of the giant turkey Urban Cowboy, where he had worked as a propman. It served as a reminder that Los Angeles wasn’t a city built on movie successes but on a garbage heap of human and financial failure. Over eighty per cent of all the films made bombed completely and lost money; the city had the highest homeless population in the USA, living at a density comparable to Mumbai’s. Traffic congestion was in the process of choking the life out of the city, though street crime, drugs and violence might get there first. But the sun was shining. Yes, that damn Californian dentist’s lamp never switched off, but shone relentlessly, making all the baubles in this phoney town glitter like real diamonds, like true stories of success. If only they knew. Like she, Lucille, knew, because she had been there, on the stage. And backstage.
The man sitting next to her had definitely not been on the stage; she recognized people in the industry immediately. But neither did he look like someone who had stared in admiration, hope or envy up at the stage. He looked more like someone who couldn’t care less. Someone with their own thing going on. A musician, perhaps? One of those Frank Zappa types, producing his own impenetrable stuff in a basement up here in Laurel Canyon, who had never been— and would never be—discovered?
After he had been in a few times, Lucille and the new guy had begun to exchange nods and brief words of greeting, the way morning guests at a bar for serious drinkers do, but this was the first time she had sat down next to him and bought him a drink. Or rather, she had paid for the drink he had already ordered when she saw Ben hand him back his credit card with an expression that told her it was maxed out.
“But does Oslo love you back?” she asked. “That’s the question.”
“Hardly,” he said. She noticed his middle finger was a metal prosthetic as he ran a hand through a brush of short, dirty- blond hair, tinged with gray. He was not a handsome man, and the liver- colored scar in the shape of a J running from the corner of his mouth to his ear—as though he were a fish caught on a hook—didn’t help matters. But he had something, something almost appealing and slightly dangerous about him, like some of her colleagues here in town. Christopher Walken. Nick Nolte. And he was broad- shouldered. Although that might have been down to the rest of him being so lean.
“Uh- huh, well, they’re the ones we want the most,” Lucille said. “The ones who don’t love us back. The ones we think will love us if we just try that little bit more.”
“So, what do you do?” the man asked.
“Drink,” she said, raising her own whiskey. “And feed cats.”
“What you really want to know, I guess, is who I am. Well, I’m . . .” She drank from her glass while considering which version to give him. The one for parties or the truth. She put down her drink and decided on the latter. Screw it.
“An actor who played one big role. Juliet, in what remains the best film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, but which nobody remembers any more. One big part doesn’t sound like much, but it’s more than most actors in this town get. I’ve been married three times, twice to well- off filmmakers who I left with favorable divorce settlements, also more than most actors get. The third was the only one I loved. An actor, and an Adonis, lacking in money, discipline and conscience. He used up every penny I had then left me. I still love him, may he rot in hell.”
She finished the contents of her glass, put it on the bar and signaled to Ben for one more. “And, because I always fall for what I can’t get, I’ve invested money I don’t have in a movie project with an enticingly big part for an older lady. A project with an intelligent script, actors who can actually act, and a director who’ll give people food for thought, in short, a project that any rational individual would realize is doomed to failure. So that’s me, a daydreamer, a loser, a typical Angelino.”
The man with the J- shaped scar smiled.
“OK, I’m all out of self- deprecation here,” she said. “What’s your name?”
“You don’t talk much, Harry.”
“You running from something?”
“That what it looks like?”
“Yeah. I see you’re wearing a wedding ring. You running from your wife?”
“Ah. You’re running from grief.” Lucille raised her glass in a toast. “You wanna know the place I love the most? Right here, Laurel Canyon. Not now, but at the end of the sixties. You should’ve been here, Harry. If you were even born then.”
“Yeah, so I’ve heard.”
She pointed towards the framed photos on the wall behind Ben.
“All the musicians hung out here. Crosby, Stills, Nash and . . . what was the name of that last guy?”
Harry smiled again.
“The Mamas and the Papas,” she continued. “Carole King. James Taylor. Joni Mitchell.” She wrinkled her nose. “Looked and sounded like a Sunday- school girl, but she laid some of the aforementioned. Even got her claws into Leonard—he shacked up with her for a month or so. I was allowed to borrow him for one night.”
“The one and only. Lovely, sweet man. He taught me a little something about writing rhyming verse. Most people make the mistake of opening with their one good line, and then write some half- decent forced rhyme on the next one. The trick is to put the forced rhyme in the first sentence, then no one will notice it. Just take a look at the banal first line of ‘Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye’ and compare it with the beauty of the second line. There’s a natural elegance to both sentences. We hear it that way, because we think the writer is thinking in the same sequence as he writes. Little wonder really; after all, people are inclined to believe that what is happening is a result of what’s gone before, and not the other way around.”
“Hm. So what happens is a result of what will happen?”
“Exactly, Harry! You get that, right?”
“I don’t know. Can you give me an example?”
“Sure.” She downed her drink. He must have heard something in her tone because she saw him raise an eyebrow and quickly scan the bar.
“What’s happening, at present, is that I’m telling you about how I owe money on a movie in development,” she said, looking through the dirty window with the half- closed blinds at the dusty parking lot outside. “That’s no coincidence, rather a consequence of what will happen. There’s a white Camaro parked next to my car outside here.”
“With two men inside,” he said. “It’s been there for twenty minutes.”
She nodded. Harry had just confirmed that she was not mistaken in what she guessed to be his line of work.
“I noticed that car outside my place up in the Canyon this morning,” she said. “No big surprise, they’ve already given me a warning and told me they’d send collectors. And not the certified type. This loan wasn’t taken out at a bank, if you follow me. Now, when I walk out to my car these gentlemen are probably going to want to have words with me. I’m guessing they’ll still make do with that, warnings and threats, that is.”
“Hm. And why tell me this?”
“Because you’re a cop.”
Once more he raised an eyebrow. “Am I?”
“My father was a cop and, clearly, you guys are recognisable the world over. The point is I want you to keep an eye out from here. If they get vocal and turn threatening, I’d like you to come out onto the porch and . . . you know, look like a cop, so they beat it. Listen, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to come to that, but I’d feel safer if you kept an eye out.”
Harry studied her for a moment. “OK,” he simply said.
Lucille was surprised. Hadn’t he allowed himself to be persuaded a little too easily? At the same time there was something unwavering in his eyes that made her trust him. On the other hand, she had trusted the Adonis. And the director. And the producer.
“I’m leaving now,” she said.
Harry Hole held the glass in his hand. Listened to the almost inaudible hiss of ice cubes melting. Didn’t drink. He was broke, at the end of the line, and was going to drag this drink out and enjoy it. His gaze settled on one of the pictures behind the bar. It was a photograph of one of the favorite authors of his youth, Charles Bukowski, outside Creatures. Ben had told him it was from the seventies. Bukowski was standing with his arm around a buddy, at what looked like dawn; both were wearing Hawaiian shirts, their eyes swimming, pinpricks for pupils, and grinning triumphantly, as though they had just reached the North Pole after a gruelling journey.
Harry lowered his eyes to look at the credit card which Ben had tossed on the bar in front of him.
Maxed out. Emptied. Nothing left. Mission accomplished. Which had been this, to drink until there was indeed nothing left. No money, no days, no future. All that remained was to see if he had the courage—or the cowardice—to round it all off. There was an old Beretta handgun underneath the mattress in his room back at the boarding house. He had bought it for twenty- five dollars from a homeless guy living in one of the blue tents down on Skid Row. There were three bullets in it. He laid the credit card in the flat of his hand and curled his fingers around it. Turned to look out the window. Watched the old lady as she strutted out to the parking lot. She was so small. Slight, delicate and strong as a sparrow. Beige slacks and a short matching jacket. There was something 1980s about her archaic, but tasteful, clothing style. Walking the same way as how she swept into the bar every morning. Making an entrance. For an audience of between two and eight people.
“Lucille is here!” Ben would proclaim before, unbidden, he began mixing her usual poison, whiskey sour.
But it wasn’t the way she took a room that reminded Harry of his mother, who had died at the Radium Hospital when he was fifteen, putting the first bullet hole through his heart. It was the gentle, smiling, yet sad look, in Lucille’s eyes, like that of a kind, but resigned soul. The concern she displayed for others when she asked for the latest news about their health problems, love lives, and their nearest and dearest. And the consideration she showed by letting Harry sit in peace at the far end of the bar. His mother, that taciturn woman who was the family’s control tower, its nerve center, who pulled the strings so discreetly one could easily believe it was his father who called the shots. His mother, who had always offered a safe embrace, had always understood, whom he had loved above all else and whom therefore had become his Achilles heel. Like that time in second grade when there had been a gentle knock on the classroom door and his mother was standing there with the lunch box he had left at home. Harry had brightened up automatically at the sight of her, before hearing some of his classmates laugh, whereupon he had marched out to her in the hall and, in a fury, had told her she was embarrassing him, she had to leave, he didn’t need food. She had merely smiled sadly, given him the lunch box, stroked his cheek and left. He didn’t mention it later. Of course, she had understood, the way she always did. And when he went to bed that night, he also understood. She was not the reason he had felt uncomfortable. It was the fact they had all seen it. His love. His vulnerability. He had thought about apologizing several times over the following years, but that would probably just have felt stupid.
A cloud of dust rose up on the graveled area outside, enveloping for a moment Lucille, who was holding her sunglasses in place. He saw the passenger door of the white Camaro open, and a man in sunglasses and a red polo shirt emerge. He walked to the front of the car, blocking Lucille’s path to her own.
He expected to observe a conversation between the two. But instead the man took a step forward and grabbed hold of Lucille’s arm. Began pulling her towards the Camaro. Harry saw the heels of her shoes dig into the gravel. And now he also saw that the Camaro didn’t have an American license plate. In that instant he was off the bar stool. Running towards the door, he burst it open with his elbow, was blinded by sunlight and almost stumbled on the two steps down from the porch. Realized he was far from sober. Then zeroed in on the two cars. His eyes gradually adjusting to the light. Beyond the parking lot, on the other side of the road winding its way up the green hillside, lay a sleepy general store, but he couldn’t see any other people apart from the man and Lucille, who was being dragged towards the Camaro.
“Police!” he shouted. “Let her go!”
“Please stay out of this, sir,” the man called back.
Harry surmised the man must have a similar background to his own, only policemen employed polite language in this type of situation. Harry also knew that a physical intervention was unavoidable, and that the first rule in close combat was simple: don’t wait, he who attacks first and with maximum aggression wins. So he didn’t slow down, and the other man must have realized Harry’s intention, because he let go of Lucille and reached for something he had behind him. His hand swung back around. In it he held a shiny handgun Harry recognized instantly. A Glock 17. Now pointed directly at him.
Harry slowed down but continued moving forwards. Saw the other man’s eye aiming from behind the gun. His voice was half drowned out by a passing pickup on the road.
“Run back to where you came from, sir. Now!”
But Harry kept walking towards him. Became aware he was still holding the credit card in his right hand. Was this how it ended? In a dusty parking lot in a foreign country, bathed in sunlight, broke and half drunk, while trying to do what he hadn’t been able to do for his mother, hadn’t been able to do for any of those he had ever cared about?
He almost closed his eyes and squeezed his fingers around the credit card, so his hand formed a chisel.
The title of the Leonard Cohen song swirled through his mind: “Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.”
Fuck that, the hell it wasn’t.
Eight o’clock. Half an hour since the September sun had gone down over Oslo, and past bedtime for three- year- olds.
Katrine Bratt sighed and whispered into the phone: “Can’t you sleep, darling?”
“Gwanny is singing wong,” the child’s voice answered, sniffling. “Whe ah you?”
“I had to go to work, darling, but I’ll be home soon. Would you like Mama to sing a little?”
“Well, then you have to close your eyes.”
Katrine began singing the melancholy song in a low, deep voice. Blueman, Blueman, my buck, think of your small boy.
She had no idea why children had, for over a century, felt happy to be lulled to sleep by the story of an angst- ridden boy who wonders why Blueman, his favorite goat, hasn’t returned home from grazing, and who fears it’s been taken by a bear and now lies mutilated and dead somewhere in the mountains.
Still, after just one verse she could hear Gert’s breathing become more regular and deep, and after the next verse she heard her mother- in- law’s whispered voice on the phone.
“He’s asleep now.”
“Thanks,” said Katrine, who had been squatting on her haunches so long she had to put her hand on the ground. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“Take all the time you need, dear. And I’m the one who should be thanking you for wanting us here. You know, he looks so much like Bjørn when he’s asleep.”
Katrine swallowed. Unable, as usual, to respond when she said that. Not because she didn’t miss Bjørn, not because she wasn’t happy that Bjørn’s parents saw him in Gert. But because it simply wasn’t true.
She concentrated on what lay in front of her.
“Intense lullaby,” said Sung- min Larsen, who had come and crouched down next to her. “ ‘Maybe now you lay dead’?”
“I know, but it’s the only one he wants to hear,” Katrine said.
“Well, then that’s what he gets.” Her colleague smiled.
Katrine nodded. “Have you ever thought about how as children we expect unconditional love from our parents, without giving anything in return? That we are actually parasites? But then we grow up and things change completely. When exactly do you think we stop believing that we can be loved unconditionally just for being who we are?”
“When did she stop, you mean?”
They looked down at the body of the young woman lying on the forest floor. Her pants and underwear were pulled down to her ankles, but the zipper on the thin down jacket was pulled up. Her face—which was turned to the starry skies above—appeared chalk- white in the glare of the Crime Scene Unit’s floodlights, which were positioned among the trees. Her makeup was streaked, and looked like it had run and dried out several times. Her hair—bombed blonde by chemicals—was sticking to one side of her face. Her lips were stuffed with silicon, and false eyelashes protruded like the eaves of a roof over one eye, which was sunken down in its socket, staring glassily up and past them, and also over the other eye, which was not there, only an empty socket. Perhaps all the barely degradable synthetic materials were the reason the body had remained in as good condition as it had.
“I’m guessing this is Susanne Andersen?” Sung- min said.
“I’m guessing the same,” Katrine replied.
The detectives were from two different departments, she was with Crime Squad at the Oslo Police and he was with Kripos. Susanne Andersen, twenty- six years old, had been missing for seventeen days and was last spotted on a security camera at Skullerud metro station around a twenty- minute walk from where they were now. The only lead on the other missing woman, Bertine Bertilsen, twenty- seven years old, was her car, which was found abandoned in a parking lot in Grefsenkollen, a hiking area in another part of the city. The hair color of the woman in front of them tallied with the security camera footage of Susanne, while Bertine was, according to family and friends, currently a brunette. Besides, the body had no tattoos on the naked lower body, while Bertine was supposed to have one—a Louis Vuitton logo—on her ankle.
So far, it had been a relatively cool and dry September, and the discoloration on the corpse’s skin—blue, purple, yellow, brown—might be consistent with it lying outdoors for close to three weeks. The same went for the smell, owing to the body’s production of gas, which gradually seeped out from all orifices. Katrine had also noted the white area of thin hair- like filaments below the nostrils: fungus. In the large wound on the throat, yellowish- white, blind maggots crawled. Katrine had seen it so often she no longer had any particular reaction. After all, blowflies were—in Harry’s words—as loyal as Liverpool fans. Turning up at a moment’s notice no matter the time or place, rain or shine, attracted by the smell of dimethyl trisulfide which the body begins to excrete from the moment of expiration. The females lay their eggs, and a few days later the larvae hatch and begin gorging on the rotting flesh. They pupate, turning into flies, which look for bodies to lay their own eggs in, and after a month they have lived their life to the end and die. That’s their life cycle. Not so different to ours, Katrine thought. Or rather, not so different to mine.
Katrine looked around. White- clad members of Krimteknisk, the Forensics Unit, moved like soundless ghosts among the trees, casting eerie shadows every time the flashes on their cameras lit up. The forest was large. Østmarka continued on, for mile after mile, virtually all the way to Sweden. A jogger had found the body. Or rather, the jogger’s dog, which had been allowed off the lead and had disappeared from the narrow gravel road and into the woods. It was already getting dark. The jogger—running with a head lamp—had followed after while calling out to the dog and had eventually found it, next to the body, wagging its tail. Well, no wagging had been mentioned, it was something Katrine had pictured.
“Susanne Andersen,” she whispered, not knowing quite to whom. Perhaps to the deceased, as comfort and assurance that she had finally been found and identified.
The cause of death appeared obvious. The cut that had been made across her throat, running like a smile over Susanne Andersen’s narrow neck. The fly larvae, various forms of insects and perhaps other animals had probably helped themselves to most of the blood; however, Katrine still saw traces of blood spatter in the heather and on the trunk of one tree.
“Killed here in situ,” she said.
“Looks that way,” Sung- min replied. “Do you think she was raped? Or just sexually assaulted after he killed her?”
“After,” Katrine said, shining the flashlight on Susanne’s hands. “No broken nails, no signs of a struggle. But I’ll try and have them undertake a forensic post- mortem over the weekend and we’ll see what they think.”
“And a clinical autopsy?”
“We won’t get that until Monday at the earliest.”
Sung- min sighed. “Well, I guess it’s only a question of time before we find Bertine Bertilsen raped and with her throat slit somewhere in Grefsenkollen.”
Katrine nodded. She and Sung- min had become better acquainted over the past year, and he had confirmed his reputation as one of Kripos’s best detectives. There were many who believed he would take over as Senior Inspector the day Ole Winter stepped down, and that from then on the department would have a far better boss. Possibly. But there were also those who voiced reservations about the country’s foremost investigative body being led by an adopted South Korean and homosexual who dressed like a member of the British aristocracy. His classic tweed hunting jacket and suede- and- leather country boots stood in stark contrast with Katrine’s thin Patagonia down jacket and Gore- tex sneakers. When Bjørn was alive, he had called her style “gorpcore,” which, she had been given to understand, was an international term for people who went to the pub dressed as though they were headed up the mountains. She had called it adapting to life as the mother of a small child. But she had to admit that this more subdued, practical style of dress was also owing to the fact that she was no longer a young, rebellious investigative talent but the head of Crime Squad.
“What do you think this is?” Sung- min said.
She knew he was thinking the same as her. And that neither of them intended to say those words out loud. Not yet. Katrine cleared her throat.
“The first thing we do is stick to what we’ve got here and find out what happened.”
Katrine hoped “agreed” was a word she would hear often from Kripos in future. But she did, of course, welcome all the help they could get. Kripos had let it be known they were ready to step up from the point Bertine Bertilsen was reported missing exactly a week after Susanne, and under strikingly similar circumstances. Both women had gone out on a Tuesday evening without telling any of those the police had spoken to where they were going or what they were doing, and had not been seen since. Besides, there were other circumstances linking the two women. When these came to light, the police shelved their theory of Susanne being in an accident or having taken her own life.
“All right, then,” Katrine said and stood up. “I’d better notify the boss.”
Katrine had to remain standing for a moment before regaining the feeling in her legs. She used the light on her cell phone to ensure she trod on more or less the same footprints they had made on their way into the crime scene. Once beyond the cordon tape, which was strung between trees, she tapped in the first letters of the name of the Chief Superintendent. Bodil Melling picked up after the third ring.
“Bratt here. Sorry for calling so late, but it looks like we might have found one of the missing women. Murdered, her throat is cut, probable arterial spatter, likely raped or sexually assaulted. Fairly certain it’s Susanne Andersen.”
“That’s too bad,” Melling said, in a voice lacking any tone. And at the same time Katrine pictured the lack of expression in Bodil Melling’s face, the lack of color in her attire, lack of emotion in her body language, guaranteed lack of conflict in her home life and lack of excitement in her sex life. The only thing that triggered a reaction in the newly appointed Chief Superintendent, she had discovered, was the soon- to- be vacated office of Chief of Police. It wasn’t that Melling wasn’t qualified, Katrine just found her unbearably boring. Defensive. Gutless.
“Will you call a press conference?” Melling asked.
“OK. Do you want to . . . ?”
“No, as long as we don’t have a positive ID on the body, you take it.”
“Together with Kripos, then? They have people at the scene.”
“All right, fine. If there’s nothing else, we have guests.”
In the pause that followed Katrine heard low chatter in the background. It sounded like a genial exchange of views, the kind, that is, where one person confirms and elaborates on what the other has said. Social bonding. That was how Bodil Melling preferred it. She would almost certainly be annoyed if Katrine brought up the subject again. Katrine had suggested it as soon as Bertine Bertilsen was reported missing and suspicion arose that the two women might have been killed by the same man. She wouldn’t get anywhere either, Melling had made that very clear, had, in effect, put an end to the discussion. Katrine ought to just let it go.
“Just one thing,” she said, letting the words hang in the air as she drew a breath.
Her boss beat her to it.
“The answer is no, Bratt.”
“But he’s the only specialist on this we have. And he’s the best.”
“And the worst. Besides, we don’t have him any longer. Thank God.”
“The media are bound to look for him, ask why we’re not—”
“Then you just tell them the truth, which is we don’t know his whereabouts. Moreover, considering what happened to his wife, coupled with his unstable nature and substance abuse, I can’t imagine him functioning in a murder investigation.”
“I think I know where to find him.”
“Drop it, Bratt. Resorting to old heroes as soon as you’re under pressure comes across as an implicit disparagement of the people actually at your disposal in Crime Squad. What will it do to their self- esteem and motivation if you say you want to bring in a wreck without a badge? That’s what we call poor leadership, Bratt.”
“OK,” Katrine said and swallowed hard.
“All right, I appreciate that you think it’s OK. Was there anything else?”
Katrine thought for a moment. So Melling could actually be antagonized and bare her teeth after all. Good. She looked at the crescent moon hanging above the treetops. Last night, Arne, the young man she had been dating for almost month, told her that in two weeks there would be a total lunar eclipse, a so- called blood moon, and they should mark the occasion. Katrine had no clue what a blood moon was, but apparently it occurred every second or third year, and Arne was so eager that she hadn’t had the heart to say maybe they shouldn’t plan something as far in the future as two weeks, seeing as they barely knew each other. Katrine had never been afraid of conflict or of being direct, something she had probably inherited from her father, a policeman from Bergen who’d had more enemies than that city had rainy days, but she had learned to choose her battles and the timing of them. But now, having thought about it, she understood that unlike a confrontation with a man she didn’t know whether she had any future with, this was one she had to face. Now rather than later.
“Yes, actually,” Katrine said. “Would it also be OK to say that at the press conference if anyone asks? Or to the parents of the next girl who is killed?”
“That the Oslo Police District is declining the assistance of a man who has cleared up three serial killer cases in the city and apprehended the three culprits? On the grounds we think it may impact on the self- esteem of some colleagues?”
A long silence arose, and Katrine could not hear any chatter in the background now either. Finally, Bodil Melling cleared her throat.
“You know what, Katrine? You’ve been working hard on this case. Go ahead and hold that press conference, get some sleep over the weekend, and we’ll talk on Monday.”
After they hung up, Katrine called the Forensic Medical Institute. Rather than go through the proper channels, she called the direct line of Alexandra Sturdza, the young forensic medical officer, who had neither partner nor child, and wasn’t too averse to long working hours. And sure enough, Sturdza replied that she and a colleague would take a look at the body the following day.
Afterwards, Katrine stood looking down at the dead woman. Maybe it was the fact that in a man’s world she had gotten where she was on her own that would not allow her to set aside her contempt for women who willingly depended on men. That Susanne and Bertine lived off men was not the only circumstance that bound them, but also that they had shared the same man, one more than thirty years their senior, the real estate mogul Markus Røed. Their lives and existences relied on other people, men with the money and the jobs they themselves did not have, providing for them. In exchange, they offered their bodies, youth and beauty. And—insofar as their relationship was exposed—their selected host could enjoy the envy of other men. But, unlike children, women like Susanne and Bertine lived with the knowledge that love was not unconditional. Sooner or later their host would ditch them, and they would have to seek out a new man to feed upon. Or allow themselves to be fed upon, depending on how you viewed it.
Was that love? Why not, simply because it was too depressing to think about?
Between the trees, in the direction of the gravel road, Katrine saw the blue light of the ambulance, which had arrived noiselessly. She thought about Harry Hole. Yes, she had received a sign of life in April, a postcard—of all things—with a picture of Venice Beach, postmarked Los Angeles. Like a sonar pip from a submarine in the depths. The message had been short. “Send money.” A joke, she wasn’t sure. Since then there had been silence.
The final verse of the lullaby, which she had not reached, played in her head.
Blueman, Blueman, answer me, bleat with your familiar sound. Not yet, my Blueman, can you die on your boy.