The Troubled Man

The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell Read Free Book Online

Book: The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Henning Mankell
by a journalist and a cameraman on your front doorstep? People who knew every detail of what had happened? Would you have shut the door in their face, or lied to them?”
    “I thought it was you who had contacted them,” said Mattson lamely.
    “Then you are even more stupid than I thought you were.”
    Wallander slammed down the phone and unplugged it. Then he called Linda on his cell phone and said she should use that number if she wanted to talk to him.
    “Come with us,” she said.
    “Come with you where?”
    She seemed surprised.
    “Didn’t I tell you? We’re off to Stockholm. It’s Håkan’s seventy-fifth birthday. Come with us!”
    “No,” he said. “I’m staying here. I’m not in a party mood. I’ve had enough of that after my evening at the restaurant.”
    “We’re leaving the day after tomorrow. Think about it.”
    When Wallander went to bed that night he was convinced that he wasn’t going anywhere. But by the next morning he had changed his mind. The neighbors could take care of Jussi. It might be a good idea to make himself scarce for a few days.
    The following day he flew to Stockholm. Linda and her family drove. He checked into a hotel across from the Central Station. When he leafed through the evening newspapers, he noted that the gun story had already been relegated to an inside page. The big news story of the day was an unusually audacious bank robbery in Gothenburg, carried out by four robbers wearing ABBA masks. Reluctantly, he sent the robbers his grateful thanks.
    That night he slept unusually soundly in his hotel bed.

4
    Håkan von Enke’s birthday party was held in a rented party facility in Djursholm, the upmarket suburb of Stockholm. Wallander had never been there before. Linda assured him that a business suit would be appropriate—von Enke hated dinner jackets and tails, although he was very fond of the various uniforms he had worn during his long naval career. Wallander could have worn his police uniform if he’d wanted to, but he had taken his best suit with him. Under the circumstances, it didn’t feel right for him to use his uniform.
    Why on earth had he agreed to go to Stockholm? Wallander asked himself as the express train from Arlanda Airport came to a halt in the Central Station. Perhaps it would have been better to go somewhere else. He occasionally used to take short trips to Skagen in Denmark, where he liked to stroll along the beaches, visit the art gallery, and lounge around in one of the guesthouses he had been using for the past thirty years. It was to Skagen that he had retreated many years ago when he had toyed with the idea of resigning from the police forcce. But here he was in Stockholm to attend a birthday party.
    When Wallander arrived in Djursholm, Håkan von Enke went out of his way to make him welcome. He seemed genuinely pleased to see Wallander, who was placed at the head table, between Linda and the widow of a rear admiral. The widow, whose name was Hök, was in her eighties, used a hearing aid, and eagerly refilled her wineglass at every opportunity. Even before they had finished the soup course she had started telling slightly smutty jokes. Wallander found her interesting, especially when he discovered that one of her six children was an expert in forensic medicine in Lund—Wallander had met him on several occasions and had a good impression of him. Many speeches were delivered, but they were all blessedly short. Good military discipline, Wallander thought. The toastmaster was a Commander Tobiasson, who made a series of witty remarks that Wallander found highly amusing. When the admiral’s wife fell silent for a little while due to the malfunctioning of her hearing aid, Wallander wondered what he could expect when he celebrated his own seventy-fifth birthday. Who would come to the party, assuming he had one? Linda had told him that it had been Håkan von Enke’s own idea to rent the party rooms. If Wallander understood the situation correctly,

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