Friday, November 15, 2019
Murder? Tour and Giveaway
Stockholm Sleuth Series Book 3
by Christer Tholin
Genre: Mystery Crime Thriller
Christina’s idyllic existence with her husband Patrik comes to an abrupt end when Patrik suddenly vanishes from their suburban home in Stockholm. Christina is precipitated into a hellishly desperate and anguished search for Patrik – which after six weeks turns up nary a trace of him.
At her wits end, she contacts local sleuths Lars and Elin, who, after a brief investigation, reach the conclusion that Patrik simply decided to abandon his cushy existence to embark on a new life –without Christina.
Lars and Elin ultimately trace Patrik’s movements to the wooded wilds of northern Sweden, but too late – he’s found dead. The police rule his death an accident, but Christina thinks otherwise – and so she asks Lars and Elin to do a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding Patrik’s demise. Was his death really accidental, or was foul play involved? And was the mysterious Natalia somehow implicated?
Unfortunately, none of the countless leads that Lars and Elin follow up gets them any closer to solving the mystery of Patrik’s death. But then they get a startling break that results in Christina having to make a tricky and extremely consequential decision that plunges our three protagonists into a life or death struggle.
MURDER? is the third, standalone book from Christer Tholin’s Stockholm Sleuth Series.
If you like fast-paced action and surprising twists and turns, then you will love Christer Tholin's sleuth series.
**Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited!
Her hand felt so good in his. He was always amazed how soft and delicate her hands were. He was entranced, watching her run along beside him. She was the very picture of loveliness, with her thick blond hair, green eyes and high cheekbones. But this morning he’d had the impression that something was bothering her. She’d disappeared into the bathroom right after breakfast and hadn’t been the same since – somehow not as happy and lively as usual. He’d asked her what was going on, but she’d said, “No, nothing, I’m fine.”
He was simply crazy about her. He’d never imagined that such a gorgeous young woman could ever be interested in him, much less fall for him. And now here they were beginning a new life together; sometimes he felt like he was dreaming. During the three days since they’d moved into the cabin, the harmony between them had been simply idyllic. And the sex was amazing too – just the love-making he’d been craving, a craving she knew exactly how to slake.
They were approaching the end of the forest path – and the highlight of the walk. The path led to the site of a landslide that had occurred a few years back. The landslide had created a long steep downhill slope that afforded a magnificent view of a large forest meadow dotted with rocks and bushes – and oftentimes animals, which took no notice if you stood there watching them. During a walk they’d taken here a couple of days ago they’d spotted reindeer, which she’d been very excited about as she had never seen a reindeer in the wild.
At the end of the slope they stopped, and he turned toward her. She was staring over the edge of the steep cliff, but she wasn’t as radiant today as she’d been during their previous walk.
“Is anything the matter? Did I say something wrong?”
“No, no, nothing like that...I really don’t know.” She let go of his hand, took a step away from him, and gazed at him. What did the look in her eyes mean? He couldn’t tell for sure. He saw a lot of sadness there, but also anxiety. She averted her gaze. What was eating her?
As he was about to again ask her what the matter was, he became aware of a movement behind him. He figured it must be an animal and turned around. A huge muscular man was heading straight for him, causing him to stagger backward. He stepped sideways, into what he realized too late was an abyss. He lost his balance and the last thing he heard was Natalia screaming. His hand clawed the air, as he plummeted downward, almost head first. He managed to grab onto a bush whose thorns dug into his hand; but the bush was too small to break his fall. The branch he’d grabbed broke, and he continued falling.
His last thought before crashing into the ground below was of Natalia.
Liv opened the large front door.
“Hi, Christina, great to see you. Come on in,” she said.
“Hej! Nice to see you too. Your place is really awesome,” Christina said, looking around in wonderment.
Liv gave her former coworker a furtive look. “Something’s not right,” she thought to herself. “Those rings under her eyes, she looks so tired, and kind of down.” Liv couldn’t remember Christina ever looking this way before.
But Liv kept all this to herself. “Yeah, well, I inherited all this from my folks,” she said, laughing. Frankly, she felt embarrassed to be living in such resplendent surroundings. The house, which was located in a housing tract in the Stockholm archipelago, had its own beach and a large docking pier where a huge motorboat was docked.
“It’s really a shame that we spend so little time here; most of the time it just stands empty. But I must say it’s great to have a vacation home near Stockholm.” This was the first occasion Liv had been here since January, when she’d moved to Berlin with her kids.
“Hej, Christina. I’m Martin. Nice to meet you,” Martin said as he emerged from the bedroom.
“Hi Martin. You speak really good Swedish.”
“Yeah well, I’m getting there. Though I often have to ask if I’m using the right word.” Martin was German, but he’d been attending Swedish classes ever since he and Liv had gotten together. Plus, they spoke Swedish at home more and more.
Suddenly three kids came barreling into the house from the back yard.
“Here come the offspring,” Liv said. “How about giving Christina a nice hello? This is my oldest, Saga, and her brother Hampus. Saga’s 11 and Hampus is almost nine.” The two children shook Christina’s hand. Behind them was a little girl who was looking on anxiously.
“And that’s Martin’s daughter Lara. She’s five and isn’t fluent in Swedish yet, but she understands just about everything.” Laughing shyly, Lara shook hands with Christina.
“Kids, do you want to have coffee with us, or would you rather have ice cream?” said Liv.
“Ice cream, ice cream!” the kids shouted in unison.
“Okay great, so go get yourselves an ice cream from the freezer, which we pretty much filled to the brim yesterday.” The ice cream truck from Hemglass made its weekly rounds on the neighboring island, and yesterday they’d waited for it to come by. The kids ran into the kitchen, jostling each other.
“The veranda’s the best place for a quiet conversation, so let’s go out there, shall we?” Liv led Christina through the large living room to the terrace door, which opened out onto a magnificent view. The property sloped down gently to the water, with expanses dotted with large rocks, and bordered by pine and oak trees – and as a backdrop to all this, an unimpeded and stunning view of the sea. The water glistened in the sun; the islands, with their trees and meadows, were bathed in a green, luminescent glow; and scattered around this idyllic scene were houses, most of them painted red, and a few boats sailing past.
“What an awesome view. It doesn’t get much better than this.” For all Christina’s apparent excitement at taking all this in, Liv couldn’t help but notice, once again, the fatigue her friend exuded, and her drooping shoulders.
“Yeah, we never get tired of it,” Martin said. “It’s really great for me, as this is the first time I’ve been here. When I took a cruise through our archipelago last year, I couldn’t have imagined that one day I’d be spending my vacation in a house like this one.”
Liv recalled that back then, Martin had come to Stockholm in the hope of finding her. They’d originally met in southern Sweden, where Martin had rented a vacation home. They’d arranged to meet up again, but then Liv had been kidnapped – an event that had plunged Martin into a state of extreme distress. He’d found out that Liv was living in Stockholm with her family and had decided to go there to find her. Which he’d eventually managed to do, with the aid of two private detectives. But this was by no means the end of the story.
The three of them sat down on the veranda, where there was a large wooden table under a pergola, and around which comfortable, thickly upholstered lawn chairs were arrayed. Martin served the coffee, while Liv cut the cake that she’d baked in the morning with Saga and Lara. As they drank coffee and ate the delicious cake, they chatted about the weather and their vacation plans.
“Did you go on vacation?” Liv asked.
"No.” Christina said, shaking her head sadly. “I’m not much in the mood for a vacation, to tell you the truth. Actually, my husband has gone missing. Which is why I wanted to see you.”
She was fighting back tears, and Liv stroked her arm soothingly. “I was right,” she thought to herself. “Something really is wrong.”
She looked over at Martin, and their eyes met: yes, they were familiar with such problems.
“So, tell me,” Liv said gently.
Christina cleared her throat. “Five weeks ago, he just vanished without warning. It was a Friday and he’d gone to work as usual, but he never came home. I called him a zillion times, but it just kept going to voicemail. The next day I filed a missing person’s report with the police – who haven’t done a damn thing about it. I’m at my wit’s end, that’s the long and the short of it.”
“Did he show up at work that day?” Martin asked.
“Yes, he was, though he left work pretty early, but there was nothing unusual about that, as it was a Friday.”
“And why aren’t the police trying to find him?” said Liv.
“They say there’s no evidence of foul play or an accident. They think that Patrik just decided to disappear. They told me I need to just wait, and that in most cases people who’ve ‘gone missing’ eventually turn up safe and sound.”
“What makes them think that?” Martin asked.
“Well, it’s because Patrik took his passport and all his credit cards with him. Plus, his car hasn’t been spotted anywhere.”
“So why did you want to see us?” Liv asked.
“Yes, well, maybe I’m wrong but rumors have been circulating at the company about what happened last year – I mean before you sold the construction business. ‘Cause let’s face it, your ex died under kind of mysterious circumstances and people have been saying that there was some kind of kidnapping. There wasn’t much about it in the papers, but didn’t some private eye or other help you?”
“Yes, that’s true. It’s a long story. We’ve been trying to keep a lid on all this as much as possible, and that’s been going quite well.”
“I see. Of course you’re under no obligation to disclose any of this to me either. But please know that if you do take me into your confidence, your secrets will be safe with me.”
“I have total faith in you on that score. After all, you handle confidential information at the company all the time.” Christina was the human resources manager at Liv’s property management company. And though Liv was no longer involved in the company’s day to day operation–having having hired a COO and resigned from the board, she’d been working alongside Liv until the end of last year and knew that she could always count on Christina to maintain confidentiality.
“The whole thing has since blown over, but as I’m sure you can understand we don’t want the media, or anyone else for that matter, to get wind of this. So, what you surmise is in fact true, but of course you need to keep it to yourself. Last year I was kidnapped, and then Saga was taken as well. Thank God for Martin, though, because if it hadn’t been for him, I probably wouldn’t have come through this ordeal safe and sound. He also hired the private detectives who ultimately got to the bottom of all this.”
Christina gave Liv a look of consternation. “Wow, two kidnappings. That must have been horrible. Were you harmed or hurt in any way?”
“No, as I said, we both came through it in one piece. But Saga is still haunted by it. She has nightmares all the time and doesn’t like being left alone. But I must say the move to Berlin has done her a world of good. Being in a new place, a new school, and so on is helping her to put the whole thing behind her. We were kind of concerned about how she’d react to coming back to Sweden for vacation, but she’s been absolutely fine – at least thus far.”
“I’m glad to hear that everything’s worked out so well,” Christina said.
“Yeah, we really love Berlin, the two little ones speak perfect German and Martin and I get along really well – like two peas in a pod, actually,” Liv said, taking Martin’s hand and gazing at him lovingly.
“Yes, all the upheaval was worth it in the end,” he said with a sly smile.
Liv turned back towards Christina: “I cannot recommend those two detectives we used highly enough. They’re really good. Trustworthy, easy to work with – and they really get things done.”
“Wow, it would be awesome if they could help me out too,” Christina said, once again fighting back tears.
“Really, you needn’t worry. You’ll see, everything will work out fine in the end.”
“Could you give me their number?”
“I think it would be better if I called them and gave them your number instead,” Martin said. “They work for an agency that employs a number of detectives, and you want to be sure that the two we worked with are assigned to your case. Besides, they’ll already know what the case is all about, and that’ll make it easier for me to introduce you to them. In any case I’d intended to contact Lars while we’re here.”
“Thanks, that’s really nice of you. I wanted to avoid hiring just any old detective. It’s much better when someone is recommended to you that others have had a positive experience with.”
“Yes of course. And really, Lars and Elin are terrific. You can’t go wrong with them,” said Liv. “So tell me, Christina, do you have any idea what might have happened to your husband?”
“No,” she said with a despairing look. “I just keep racking my brains, trying to fathom what might have happened. The whole thing makes no sense. Everything was peachy keen between us, I swear. We were planning to go to our summer home in Norrland in July. When he disappeared, and I was unable to reach him, I even went to Norrland to see if he might have gone there. But that was stupid of me, because of course he wasn’t there. Though I had the impression that he might have been there for a little while.”
“What makes you say that?” Martin asked.
“Well as you know, you have to pack everything away in the fall in order to close up a summer cabin for the winter. And some of the furnishings looked to me as though they’d been used recently. Or at least I had the impression that the cabin wasn’t exactly as we’d left it.”
“That’s an important detail. The sort of thing you absolutely must tell the detectives.”
“Yes, I will, of course. I’m sincerely grateful to both of you. Please tell them to contact me as soon as possible. But now I need to go, otherwise I’ll miss the last ferry.”
Having raised from the chairs Liv and Martin accompanied Christina to the door and said goodbye. They observed how she got into her car and drove down to the street.
“Poor Christina,” sighed Liv, after Christina had left. “I really feel for her. It’s a good thing I got Saga back after only a few days. I never would have been able to survive her being gone for five whole weeks.”
“But look, Christina’s husband is an adult – though the not knowing is a killer, that’s for sure.”
“Do you think he might simply have left her?”
“Hard to say. Though let’s face it, she’s no Miss Sweden.
“Really?” Liz shrieked, rolling her eyes, “You think he left her just ‘cause she’s a bit plump? But she always dresses really well, plus she’s a super nice person.”
“Yeah, but you only know her in her capacity as an HR manager, which perhaps isn’t the most objective basis for judging someone.”
“Yeah, maybe not. But by the same token, you can’t just judge a book by its cover, you have to try to see what’s inside.”
“Yeah, and maybe she’s a veritable tornado in bed,” said Martin, laughing.
“Men,” she snorted. “All you care about is physical appearance and sex.”
“You know exactly what we’re like. But fortunately, you fulfill all my wishes on both of these things.”
“Thank God for that,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
But then she put her arms around him and gave him a tender kiss.
“When are you going to call Lars?”
“In a minute. I hope he’s not away on vacation. It’s August and it’s not back to school time yet.”
“I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”
Liv went out on the terrace to clear the table. She was more upset by the conversation than she cared to admit. These things belonged, after all, to the recent past, and it didn’t take much to revive the memories of events that had occurred only last year. She and Martin had often talked about whether it was advisable for them to return to Sweden this year, as they both feared that doing so would reopen old wounds, especially for Saga. But Hampus really wanted to go so that he could water-ski and swim every day. So, they’d decided to take the risk, and everything had been hunky dory, thus far. Liv had in fact gone to Stockholm a couple of times in recent months, as her presence at board meetings was required. But she was always happy to come back home to Berlin, and to Martin. And actually, here in the archipelago with her family, she’d hardly given last year’s kidnappings a thought. That is, until the conversation of this evening. Now all of a sudden, the memories and emotions came flooding back, particularly her anxiety about Saga. She thought about how incredibly relieved she’d been to be able to hug Saga again. She was beginning to cry; she needed to pull herself together. She decided the best thing to do was to see how the kids were doing; she needed to feel their physical presence.
Stockholm Sleuth Series Book 2
"Dammit! She’d made a huge mistake. She’d never make it out of here - they were going to kill her."
In the crime novella SECRETS?, fledgling private investigator Elin Bohlander takes on what looks like an easy assignment — at first: to determine if her client’s boyfriend is having an affair with another woman. To do this, Elin follows him to a secluded cabin in the woods, where she soon discovers that what’s actually transpiring is stranger than anyone thought. Having ventured too far, she’s stumbled upon a hornet’s nest and put her life at risk. But it’s too late. Can Elin win the unequal fight against a gang of brutal child molesters?
SECRETS? is the second, standalone book from Christer Tholin’s Stockholm Sleuth Series. In the previous novel VANISHED?, Elin and her colleague Lars solve their first case together.
If you like fast-paced action and surprising twists and turns, then you will love Christer Tholin's sleuth series.
**Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited!
Another day at the office went by with nothing special going on. But Elin was now on fire, and she constantly checked her mail in the hope of finding a new request, but there was nothing. It was enough to drive her insane! She so wanted another assignment, one that would truly challenge her—one that was even more interesting than Helena’s. Elin had driven to the cabin a third time and seen the men there, but since nothing new had come of it, she decided she was done with it.
Now back at her apartment, she had changed into something comfortable and eaten a snack. She was standing in the bathroom washing her hands when Maja came home.
“Elin!” Maja was screaming. The door to the apartment slammed shut. Maja’s bag made a loud noise as it landed in a corner, and her rapid footsteps could be heard crossing the living room floor. Elin hurriedly dried her hands. This was not at all like Maja, who was usually the image of calm itself. Something must have happened. Elin opened the door to see Maja standing before her, her hands on her hips. Her face was red; her breathing, quick and shallow. She stared at Elin, furious: “What have you done? Where did you go with my car?”
“Maja, calm down! What happened?”
“I will not calm down! I want to know where you went with my car. Damn it!” Her dark eyes flashed at Elin.
“Fine, no problem. I’ll tell you. Come on, let’s sit down.” Elin stepped toward Maja and tried to take her in her arms, but Maja pushed her away.
“What? I haven’t done anything to you. Whatever it is, I didn’t do it intentionally. What’s going on with the car? Is something broken?” Elin looked at her, distraught. She had never seen Maja like this before. Usually, it was Maja who had to calm Elin, not the other way around. “Come on, let me hold you in my arms. I love you.”
That seemed to work. Maja lowered her eyes, and her shoulders dropped. Elin put her arm around her and drew her close. What was going on? Maja was sobbing. She embraced Elin and held her tight. Her shoulders jerked, and she was howling like a hyena. God Almighty, this must really be bad. Maja seldom cried, and never this hard. Elin was getting seriously worried. What had happened here? After all, she had parked the car in the courtyard, and everything had been fine. Unless someone had tried to break in, but that would have happened later. And why did Maja think Elin was to blame? That wasn’t like her at all.
Gradually, the sobbing subsided. Elin led Maja into the living room and sat her down on the couch. Squatting down before her, she looked into her tear-filled eyes.
“Now tell me everything, and if I’m to blame, I’ll admit it right away. Promise! And I’ll formally apologize. But I honestly have no idea what could be wrong with your car. I borrowed it again the day before yesterday, but then I parked it in the courtyard, as usual. Everything was still fine at that point. I swear!” Elin raised her right hand.
The corner of Maja’s mouth twitched briefly into an unsuccessful smile. She dug around in her pants pocket, produced a tissue, and blew her nose. Then she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. Luckily, she wasn’t wearing any makeup, or she would have looked even worse.
“I was attacked,” she finally gasped.
“What? Are you hurt?” Elin couldn’t believe it. Maja was extremely well trained—she could perform any self-defense move in her sleep. And what did this have to do with the car?
“No. They only threatened me.”
“That’s lucky.” Elin breathed a sigh of relief. At least, Maja was unharmed. “But who threatened you? Now please! Tell me the whole story from the beginning.” Elin gave her a penetrating look. “All right, Maja?”
Maja blew her nose once more and leaned back. “Yeah, OK. So I was walking out of the studio on my way to the underground. Since it was still so light out, I took the shortcut through the park. There was no one in sight other than that guy who’s been following me for the past few days. He was sitting on a bench in the middle of the park. I was trying to decide whether to turn around. But then I thought, ‘This is my chance to find out what this is all about,’ and I walked right up to him. He immediately stood up, and it was only then that I noticed he was wearing a mask. I wanted to go back right away, but when I turned around, there were three other guys standing before me, all with masks as well. I tried to escape to the right, but these guys already had a knife at my throat, and they were restraining me on all sides. Then they pulled me off the path and down into the bushes, and one of them whispered that I should keep my trap shut. I was sure they were going to rape me, and I was desperately trying to figure out how to break free. But then one of them—a tall guy, definitely over six feet—said that they just wanted to talk to me. I didn’t really believe that, but I waited to see what they would say.”
Elin stared at her, spellbound.
“I need something to drink,” Maja said.
Elin rose and went to the kitchen. She had an uneasy feeling for some reason. Four guys, of all things, and one of them very tall. That was surely no coincidence. But why?
Elin handed Maja a glass of water. Maja drank eagerly. “And what did they want?” asked Elin.
“They claimed I’d followed them in my car. And that they didn’t like having someone sneaking around behind them. This would be their first and final warning. If they saw either me or the car nearby again, our next meeting would proceed without a lot of talking. They said they’d make short shrift of me.” Maja had tears in her eyes again, and she let out several sobs. “I had to confirm that I understood. I obviously said yes. After that, one of them hit me in the stomach full force, and I blacked out. When I came to again, the four of them were gone.”
“God, how awful! I’m so sorry—I’m sure they were the same guys I was observing. I just don’t understand why they reacted so viciously. I’ve already put the whole thing to rest. Honestly, Maja, I didn’t want to pull you in. I’m sure it was me they were after.”
“Yeah, that much was clear to me by then. But did you go back to the cabin another time? You only told me about two surveillances. And the men didn’t see you at all, did they?”
“Well, yes, they did. The second time, they stopped briefly next to my—I mean, your car. I ducked right away, but they might have written down or photographed the license plate number. I’m sorry—that was my mistake. The first time, I did better and parked around the corner. I’m sure they didn’t see the car that time. Then the day before yesterday, I was there again for the third and last time because I just couldn’t get the whole business out of my head. I wanted to get through the surveillance quickly, so I drove the car down the dirt road to the fork where it turns off to the cabin. On their way back, they obviously drove by your car, but I was hoping they didn’t see it.”
Maja sighed. “But they did. Did you find anything out?”
“No, that’s why I put the whole thing to rest. The assignment is done. I just wanted to make sure one more time that nothing new had come up. But it was the same game as the other times: working together on their computers, four guys in two cars—nothing more.”
Maja was calmer now. Her breathing was steady again. “I’m sorry I lit into you earlier. It’s clear that it wasn’t your fault. I just needed to vent my frustrations on someone.”
“No problem. I probably deserved it, anyway. When I think of how they could have attacked me instead, then I know that I got off lightly with your tirade. But that should be a lesson to me: I’ll no longer use your car for detective work. I see now what comes of that. But tell me, can you describe these guys at all?”
Maja shook her head. “No. They all had on black masks, hoodies, jeans, and sneakers. The one who was following me earlier was wearing a brown parka, as usual—otherwise, I’m sure I never would have recognized him. And as I said, one of the other three guys was very tall. Aside from that, I didn’t notice anything special.”
Elin thought it over. “It fits in any case. I mean, who else could it be? I just don’t understand why they would make such a big deal out of it. If all they’re doing is playing harmless computer games, they wouldn’t have had such a violent reaction. Something about the whole thing stinks—I’ve had that feeling from the very beginning. Four guys who meet in secret in a secluded place several times a week ... that can’t possibly be harmless.”
Maja sat up. “You’re not really thinking of pursuing this further, are you? To be honest, I’ve had enough. I can usually put up a good fight, but four men armed with knives—I’d rather not risk that again. And I can tell you: they meant what they said.”
Elin raised both hands in defense. “Stop worrying! Under no circumstances do I want anything to happen to you. But it bothers the hell out of me that they could get away with this intimidation act so easily. In my view, our best move would be to bring in the police. They’d definitely find something interesting here—if only I knew what it was.”
“Thanks, but I really have no interest in dealing with the police. You know how overworked they are. And since nothing serious happened to me, I can imagine what priority they would give this incident. Also, if these guys ever caught wind that the police were involved, they’d get in their heads to make good on their threat. I really don’t need that, thank you very much.”
“Yeah, I know. But this situation doesn’t exactly feel safe, either. I mean, how do we know that they’ll leave us in peace, even if we just lay low? Think about it. You run across one of these guys by chance. You don’t even recognize him, but he alerts the others, and there you are again with a knife at your throat.”
Maja looked at Elin in horror. “Do you have to be so graphic? I’ve got chills running down my spine.”
“You’re right, though. It’s still a risk. Let me see how I cope with it. Ask me again in a few days—maybe I’ll change my mind. But please do not do anything without my consent! This thing concerns me now, too. You can’t make the decisions on your own.”
“All right, Scout’s Honor. I’ll discuss everything with you beforehand.”
Elin could easily understand Maja’s point. And she would keep her promise. On the other hand, her detective instincts had been aroused, and she wondered what lay behind this thing. Just what sort of plot were they hatching in that cabin?
Elin rose and walked to the window. She looked down at the entryway to the house on the other side of the street. There was no one there.
“At least, they seem to have called off their surveillance. I don’t see anyone there.”
“Sounds good. That’s something, anyway.” Maja made no effort to check Elin’s observation but instead went straight to the kitchen. “I need to eat something now. And a glass of wine would also be good. Now that I think about it, more like several glasses.”
That was something Elin could fully endorse. Right now, a little normalcy and relaxation were just what they both needed.
Stockholm Sleuth Series Book 1
“He could only hope he’d get out of here in one piece.”
To come to terms with his recent divorce, Martin, an attorney in Berlin, plans a peaceful vacation – two weeks in a Swedish summer house seem to be the solution. It won’t be peaceful, however, and those two weeks will change his life forever. He takes a liking to Liv, a Swedish woman whom he meets in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, they don’t get to have their first date – Liv disappears under mysterious circumstances. Martin begins his search but soon realizes he can’t find Liv in a foreign country by himself. He hires two private investigators, and their discoveries make everything seem even stranger.
The complexities in this suspenseful criminal case lead to a hunt across Sweden. Martin comes close to finding answers, but his search lands him in very real danger, eventually leading to the first deaths. Soon he‘s wondering if he can get Liv and himself out of this situation alive.
**Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited!
They left the house and ran to the driveway. There they heard the sound of an engine rapidly approaching.
“Damn, somebody’s coming. Quick, into the woods!”
They rushed behind the house and into the trees, where before them was a narrow path. Martin tried to keep his voice muted: “We’ll cut through the woods to my car. Follow me!”
He followed the wooded pathway for a short stretch, then veered to the right through the trees. It was muddy and difficult to negotiate; that meant they weren’t going to make headway very quickly. “We have to try not to make any noise.”
They moved slowly around the house. The vehicle had now arrived; it was the black pickup.
“Shit.” Martin cursed. Liv held on firmly to his shirtsleeve. “Shouldn’t we try to escape through the woods instead?”
“Do you know your way around here?”
“No.” Liv looked around. “How far is it to my summerhouse?”
“Liv, we’re in Dalarna, really close to your husband’s summerhouse.”
“What?” Liv opened her eyes wider and pressed her hands to her mouth.
Martin looked at her: “To my car?”
They kept moving cautiously through the woods, able to hear the driver getting out and going up to the house. It couldn’t be much longer until he noticed that Liv’s things were missing; then he would go into the cellar and…
Gradually they put more distance behind them and approached the driveway. Martin looked back and believed they could now leave their cover without risk. It went faster on the driveway; Martin’s shoulder ached with every step, but now was the time to keep his teeth clenched. Just as he unlocked the car, he heard a sound from the house. The man had come out the door and roared something that Martin didn’t understand. Liv looked at him with horror. As fast as they could, they climbed into the car. Martin started it; unfortunately, he still had to turn it around, and there was very little space to do so. Twice he backed up until he could finally drive off. At that very moment, the engine of the pickup revved behind them. He looked in the rear-view mirror; the truck was already approaching them. He hit the gas. The car reacted and lurched forward with a jerk. Martin drove as fast as he could; Liv was frightened; she held on to the armrest and looked around from back to front.
“I’m trying to.”
Martin pushed the pedal harder. The main road lay in front of them – he knew he wouldn’t make the curve at that speed. Even so he kept driving at the same velocity; a brief glance revealed the pickup directly behind them. The engine was loud, and the black steel fenders in front of the hood were coming dangerously close. At the intersection to the main road, Martin braked slightly, hoping to make it onto the dirt road without
landing in the ditch. Gripping the steering wheel with all his strength, the Audi swung around, and it looked like they would make it. But the pickup had other plans. It didn’t intend to make the curve. The driver swerved slightly to the right and rammed the Audi from the side just as they reached the bend. The Audi’s rear end slung around towards the woods. Liv screamed, both airbags deployed and Martin braked with everything in his power. The car came to a stop diagonally across the road.
Before Martin recovered his seven senses, the door was swung open, and he was staring down the barrel of a rifle. The man roared something in Swedish. Martin didn’t understand a word, but it was clear, nonetheless, what the man wanted. Martin got out and raised his arms. Behind him, Liv crawled out of the car. She said something to the man, who tersely roared back, and Liv fell silent. The man wore a green parka with a high turned-up collar. Other than that he wore a baseball cap. Because of this, little of his face was visible. Dishevelled dark hair and a large, somewhat red nose. With the rifle, the man motioned them to the pickup. He opened the hatch over the bed and said something. Liv scrambled in; Martin behind her. They had to lie down, then the hatch was closed tightly. Liv felt for his hand and held onto it firmly. The bed smelled like cement and leaves. It was cold.
The pickup started up, turned around and drove off.
A few minutes later, the hatch was opened again, the man directed them into the house, down the stairs and into the cellar. He motioned them to sit on the bed and looked around the room. The rifle was still pointing at them. The man cursed, kicked the table so that it flew over the threshold of the doorway, then he left the room. A key turned in the lock.
Martin and Liv looked at each other. Liv bent her head and laid it on Martin’s shoulder. She was crying. Martin put his arm around her.
He could think of nothing to comfort her. The situation was quite hopeless.
Christer Tholin grew up in the North of Germany, Schleswig-Holstein. Today, he lives together with his family in Stockholm, Sweden, where he works as a management consultant.
Already for ages he has been a great fan of crime stories and therefore, had the desire to write his own crime story with the characters acting in Sweden. This crime-fiction is now available under the title "Vanished?".
The crime novel starts at a slower pace - like Martin's holidays, but the tension goes up more and more. It comes to a number of surprising turns giving new impulses to the story. Apart from that, the lovely country Sweden is described with the view of a foreigner.
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