Isabella’s cop client Harry had a busy morning. His twins had their birthday and there really should be lots of presents, ice cream and singing. Their tenth birthday on the tenth of April. But they were no fools – they wanted real presents thought out exclusively for them. Daniel wanted a skateboard with a special pattern and red wheels. Alexander on the other hand was more of an intellectual wanting all of the Star Wars films I-VI. Being a cop made it easy to perform an investigation on these matters. He found a Skater’s shop in Södermalm, locate in the mall called “Skrapan (The Skyscraper)”. He knew that Daniel would want to choose for himself both the board and the wheels so Harry chose to buy a skater sweater and a gift voucher for “Any board and any set of wheels”. When he had his latest session with Isabella he had passed an SF shop in the Old Town and they had a complete Star Wars set. Harry felt relieved and happy as the boys opened their gifts. Ellinor, Harry’s wife looked happy too even though she had been up since four to prepare everything from coffee, ice cream, un-hiding the gifts and so on. She had left Harry sleep until six. Even though Easter was last week the kids had Easter Holidays this week too, making them both actually do something this week had been somewhat a challenge. Ellinor and Harry had taken turns on looking after the “DeeAys” as Harry called the twins. AS both Harry and Ellinor were working they had to make it possible to do some work from home. Their terrace-house in the northern suburbs of Stockholm had four bedrooms on the second floor and they had made that into a study. Harry had on more than one occasion asked himself why they had decided to get a house in Suburbia when both he and Ellinor worked in the city. There were of course several reasons. Buying a flat in the city would cost about a million crowns per room and the family needed at least three bedrooms, a study and a living room. So a house for two or three million or a flat for five? And there was the thought of having small children in the city or closer to nature. They had also found a very nice private kindergarten close to their house too on the way to the local commuter train station. But there were downsides too. Both Harry and Ellinor had to spend hours commuting to work and back so the idea of spending time with their children in the countryside was limited to weekends and during weekends they both needed to work to compensate for the huge amount to travelling and still being able to pay for the house. Two rats in a pretty cage hoping that their boys were OK anyway. Right now mama and papa rat were giving them quite a treat. Everything seemed to run smoothly. Harry remembered Isabella and her way of making him realize how much his family really meant to him. He might, if he had chosen the “glamorous” super cop job, not even been here this morning to celebrate. Probably out at some crime scene in Scania or wherever securing footprints or tire tracks already taken by others. The super cops were only to be called on after thirty days. Not really “Cold Cases” but at least lukewarm. Much better to stay in Stockholm to enjoy happy faces. Harry thought that coaching had been a surprising experience for him. He went there with the sport vision of what a coach was and had expected to be told what to do. Instead Isabella had given him the lead, making him realize that he was in charge of his own process. Harry had found that a refreshing contrast to all the people telling him things all the time. He longed back to Isabella’s office and their next session. Nothing sexual of course. This was something completely different. Just trust. Ellinor had also noticed that Harry was happier than before.
Suddenly Harry’s mobile made a familiar weird noise. One of those signals that came with the phone but nobody wanted to have activated. Harry had chosen that one because nobody else had it at work. He could tell the call was for him just by the signal. Who would call him at seven in the morning on an Easter Holiday Saturday?
It was Stig Lindberg. One of his colleagues at work. Not the famous Swedish designer who had the same name. And was dead. “Hi Harry. Sorry about this, but you really have to come in today.” Harry was amazed. He was the boss, right? ”What do you mean Stig? What can be so urgent that you want to drag me from my family on a Saturday? And when my twins have their birthday? Has someone killed our Prime Minister – again?” Back in 1986 the Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme had been shot, leaving Sweden shocked. Sweden was still shocked by this, really. “No Harry, not that exactly. But it is a murder for sure. A journalist at Aftonbladet. It is the weirdest thing I’ve seen in a long time.” “But, why do I need to come right away? Isn’t the man dead? Will he suddenly take off?” “It’s a woman and dead for sure, but placed in a position you just have to take a look at and in a place that is a bit special too.” Harry began to realize that he would not be able to stay at home this time. “OK.where are we talking about?” “Outside Centralbadet in a pond. Drowned.” And she couldn’t have drowned all by herself?” Harry really tried to get off the hook. “Nope. You’ll see.” OK Stig. I’ll call you back in ten.” Harry turned to Ellinor and the twins. ”Sorry guys, but I have to pop into town for a little while.” Ellinor’s face changed from harmony to something Harry knew he would not appreciate very much. Disappointment. “So my dear Harry will prioritize the dead over the living again, is that so? Another corpse fiesta, I suppose?” Harry knew that he was in deep trouble and quickly needed a quick idea to compensate for him leaving his family now. “How about us celebrating by going to a restaurant this evening – you choose where and then we can meet there?” Ellinor was not satisfied but decided to play along for the twins. “OK, Daniel and Alex will decide.”
Harry left the house, got to the family car and hastily drove south for Stockholm city. This time on a Saturday the roads were pretty empty. The ordinary queues on that way to work were not to be seen now. “Always something.” Harry found himself talking to himself again. He decided to turn the radio on. He had it adjusted to one of the channels playing old songs, some even older than he was. He heard the familiar sound of “China Girl” and thought that he was also “stumbling into town” and perhaps even stumbling through life knowing very little about himself. The meetings with Isabella had opened him up a bit though. Formerly he would just follow the advice of the Chinese girl in the video. Keeping his mouth shut. Harry smiled. The next song was ”Light in Your Heart” with Hanne Boel, the Danish singer with enough soul in her voice to get to his heart too. And of course a vivid memory. Songs have strong powers for many people and for Harry too.
Harry parked the car in Drottninggatan, just outside the gates to Centralbadet, knowing that it was not a great spot to park in. He saw the blue and white plastic police ribbons placed to prevent people from entering there and destroying possible evidence on the ground. And he spotted Stig talking to one of the police women in uniform at the scene. Harry noticed that Stig needed a new coat more than he did and sent a thought of gratitude towards Ellinor who always tried to make Harry look his best. Stig apparently had no wife. “OK Stig, tell me all.” ”Right. Apparently this woman was drowned or so we think right now sometime during the night. But the weird thing is that she seems to have been positioned just over the water surface in the pond at first with ropes. The ropes were then to slowly break dropping her bound body into the water.” “What?” Harry didn’t understand a word. ”Someone had poured some acid or something on the rope for it to eventually break.” “Are you telling me that some weird person first bound and gagged her, then left her hanging there alive to drop to her death in the water later?” “I guess so. And on her birthday too.” Harry thought about the twins back home. ”Why didn’t she managed to get out of the water then – this pond is extremely small and the water can’t be more than 60 centimeters deep?” “I don’t know yet, Harry. Seems weird to me too. And why was she not killed immediately? Why let her hang there a while first?” “How long do you guess?” “Hard to say. Depends on the acid involved of course.” Stig had been right. A very strange death by water indeed. But in a beautiful spot just outside the building where the bath an spa known as Centralbadet was located. The building was in Art Noveau style. A style that most Swedes would call Jugend. Harry had mixed emotions towards Jugend. On one hand it was very elegant, but on the other hand it seemed a bit overloaded with ornament. A bit too much. This murder was a little too much too. Ropes, acid, a peculiar public space and Harry felt there would be even more oddities about this one later. Harry turned to Stig. “Who was she?” “A Johanna Sofia Isaksson, born in 1951. Worked at Aftonbladet. They have a special part of it that is about gambling. There.” “So she is fifty-nine?” ”Depends on the time of death. Today is her birthday as I told you – remember?” Harry didn’t bother to reply. He was thinking that what a weird coincidence to drown by a placed designed for swimming. Perhaps the killer had some weird sense of humor? Or was there something more to this? The murder had been planned to say the least. This was no spur of the moment thing. “Did she have any family?” “As far as we know yet no. We have not spoken to anyone yet though. A bit early for that yet.” Harry saw in the reflection of restaurant Rydberg close by that some people had stopped to see what was going on already. Harry begun to consider the complications involved with murdering somebody in place like this. First you have to make your victim appear here, then binding her, then hanging her up above the water, then pouring the right amount of acid on the rope and then get away. Harry guessed that it would be too complicated. So how? “Stig, have you thought about the crime scene?” What do you mean?” “Do you think that she was captured here, bound here and then drowned here?” “No, maybe and don’t know…we will probably know more by Monday when forensics have done some work on it.” “It’s not an “it” Stig it’s a “her”. Never forget that.” Yes, a probably single woman dead in the middle of Stockholm and lively twins waiting to have a feast in suburbia. Harry knew what to do. Coaching had taught him to make the right priorities. With a few exceptions of course…