My apologies for how long this has taken to post. But here it is, now! Enjoy!
The girl had been hidden in a skip, half buried beneath the detritus from the myriad of shops that led off from the alley.
"Found by one of the local homeless," Anne-Britt said, as she walked with Kurt towards the body, laid out across the floor. "He was rummaging through the skip when he found her hand. He called the police, and disappeared."
Kurt nodded, distractedly.
The girl had been upended out of the skip by the baker, who had been roused by the beggar's shout of alarm. She lay surrounded by delivery boxes, plastic food containers, old magazines and banana skins.
"Any idea who she is?"
Anne-Britt shook her head.
"No ID. Just a photo of her with three other girls in her pocket. We're checking the missing persons list now, and looking for those other girls."
Kurt moved forward to look at her face, leaning on her shoulder as she lay sprawled on her side. She was dressed for a night out, gaudy lipstick and glittering dress making her look more like a pantomime character.
A uniform officer was taking photos of the scene. He nodded to the detectives as they walked away, back out of the alley.
"I called Magnus, before," Anne-Britt continued. "He didn't pick up."
It felt as though she was asking him a question. She was waiting, expectantly, for him to answer.
"Yeah, he… Lisa said he could take a few days. Family thing."
"Really? I thought they didn't talk." She shrugged. "Well, that leaves us with one less person, anyway."
The next hour was spent going up and down the street, asking if anyone had seen anything unusual. They asked managers, cashiers, customers, and stopped to knock at the door of the few houses scattered around the shop fronts. No one had seen or heard anything unusual, except, they were enthusiastically informed, for the fireworks in the street across.
"They set them off horizontally, you know. I complain every weekend, and none of you lot even come and take a look."
"Yes, thank you, Mrs Stenberger."
Spotting Nyberg's car parked beside the crime scene, now cordoned off, Kurt left Anne-Britt to placate the insistent woman and her terrier.
He ducked under the police tape, waved through by the uniform on watch, and walked towards the forensics team, happily working under Nyberg's instruction.
The man stood and nodded to Kurt as he pulled off his gloves.
"So, what do we have?"
Nyberg sighed and looked down at the girl at his feet.
"Two bullet holes in her back, likely what killed her. But there's some strangulation marks on her neck, and a deep cut around both wrists that probably came from handcuffs of some sort. Those are old wounds, though."
Anne-Britt jogged over to them, shoving her hands in her pockets to stave off the cold of the morning.
"I'll take her back to the lab for an autopsy, to check for anything else."
"Great. Let me know when you have something."
As they walked away, it began to rain.
"Kurt, did you actually get any sleep last night?"
They had ducked into a small café to get out of the rain and for some much needed caffeine.
"What? Yes, yes, of course."
He waved her concern away as their drinks were brought across. The waiter was a young man, probably a student, Kurt thought. He was tall, still a little gangly, and seemed to have a soft spot for Hoglund.
"So, what do we do now?"
Anne-Britt had her hands wrapped around her warm mug and was looking at him, expectantly.
"We… Who did you say was checking the missing persons list?"
He took a sip of the coffee. Still hot enough to burn his tongue. He ignored it.
"Svedberg said he'd look into it, himself. Says he'll call with the results."
"Nothing much to do but wait then, I suppose."
He picked up the coffee again.
Kurt went home for lunch. Nothing had come through on the girl's ID yet, and Nyberg hadn't yet performed her autopsy. Lisa assured him that he wouldn't be missed.
Linda's car was on the driveway.
As he pulled over to park up, she emerged from the house and waved to him, shutting the boot of her car.
He smiled as she pulled him into a hug.
"Yes. Lisa… Yes."
She pulled away and gestured to the house.
"Well then, would you like a healthy lunch?"
"Do I get the choice?"
She looked at him, askance.
"No, I didn't think so."
She ushered him into the sitting room and turned the TV on.
"There. Watch that for a bit. If you're not in the room, you can't sneak food."
There was nothing on. He settled, eventually, on a documentary about migrating birds moving from the Arctic Circle and began to dose in his chair.
"…ad. Dad, wake up."
Linda stood over him, holding a phone.
"Anne-Britt says she needs you. Another murder."
He sighed and rubbed at his eyes.
"Fine. Tell her I'll be there in about twenty minutes." He stood and shrugged his coat back on just in time to catch Linda's stony expression as she put the meal she'd made in the fridge. "Linda, I'm sorry. I-"
She held up her hand to quiet him and smiled.
"I know, Dad. I know."
"Kurt! Good, I was getting worried that you weren't coming.
Lisa was smiling at him from inside the door of his office, holding a file. Beyond her, he could see Anne-Britt talking on the phone.
"There's been another murder?"
"Yes." Lisa handed him the file. "It seems you have another serial to deal with. I've asked Magnus to come back to work early, to help you."
"No, really that's not –"
She held up her hand, cutting him off.
"I just want this wrapped up quickly, Kurt. You might need him."
She stalked off, leaving him to examine the file in his hands. The second girl had been found washed up on the beach, dressed almost identically to the first victim. The sea water had washed of some of her make-up and in the photo she looked very young.
"-alright. Yes, thank you. Fine." Anne-Britt put down the phone and turned towards him. "We have the first girl. Karin Bertel. She's from Sjöbo. Went missing last week, apparently ran away. She left a note saying she was going to America, no one at home heard from her again."
"And this one?"
He held up the file.
"Nothing yet. They're still running her through."
In his pocket, his phone beeped. It was a text message from Linda.
Remember to eat. And get some sleep!
He smiled and texted back:
Then, putting his phone down on his desk, he turned back to Anne-Britt.
"Oh, almost forgot! Nyberg wants to see us."
"Perfect. Let's go see him then."
As they left the room, Kurt's phone began to ring. The caller ID flashed up: Martinsson.
A.N. Oh, I am evil. But I promise, Magnus shall return in Chapter 3!