Skip to main content



The Drowning

He had known that sooner or later it would come to light again. Something like that was impossible to hide. Every word had led him closer to what was unnameable and appalling. What he had been trying for so many years to repress.

Now escape was no longer an option. He felt the morning air fill his lungs as he walked as fast as he could. His heart was pounding in his chest. He didn’t want to go there, but he had to. So he had chosen to let fate decide. If someone was there, he would have to speak. If nobody was there, he would continue on his way to work, as if nothing had happened.

But the door opened when he knocked. He stepped inside and squinted in the dim light. The person standing in front of him was not the one he had expected to see. It was somebody else.

Her long hair swung rhythmically from side to side as he followed her into the next room. He started talking, asking questions. His thoughts were whirling round and round in his head. Nothing was what it appeared to be. This was all wrong, and yet it seemed right.

Suddenly he fell silent. Something had struck him in the solar plexus with a force that stopped his words in mid-sentence. He looked down and saw blood starting to seep out as the knife was pulled from the wound. Then a new stab, more pain, and the sharp blade twisting inside his body.

He knew it was over. It would all end here, even though there was still so much he had left to do and see and experience. At the same time there was a kind of justice in what was happening. He hadn’t deserved the good life he’d enjoyed, or all the love he’d been given. Not after what he had done.

After the pain had numbed his senses and the knife stopped moving, the water came. The rocking motion of a boat. And when he was enveloped by the cold sea, all other sensations ceased.

The last thing he remembered was her hair. Long, and dark.

Chapter 1

‘But it’s been three months! Why haven’t you found him?’

Patrik Hedström gazed at the woman in front of him. She looked more exhausted every time he saw her. And she came into the police station in Tanumshede once a week. Every Wednesday. She’d been doing this ever since her husband disappeared in early November.

‘We’re doing everything we can, Cia. You know that.’

She nodded without saying a word. Her hands were trembling as she held them clasped in her lap. Then she looked at him, her eyes filled with tears. It wasn’t the first time Patrik had seen this happen.

‘He’s not coming back, is he?’

Now her voice was trembling as well as her hands, and Patrik had to resist the urge to go round his desk and give the fragile woman a comforting hug. Somehow, even though it went against all his protective instincts, he remained cool and professional, considering how to respond. Finally he took a deep breath and said:

‘No, I don’t think he is.’

She didn’t ask any more questions, but he could see that his words had only reinforced what Cia Kjellner already knew. Her husband was never coming home. On the third of November Magnus had got up at six thirty, showered, dressed, waved goodbye first to his two children and then to his wife as they left for the day. Just after eight o’clock Magnus was seen leaving the house on the way to Tanum Windows, his place of work. After that nobody knew where he had gone. He never showed up at the house of his colleague, who was supposed to give him a ride to the office. Somewhere between his own home in the neighbourhood near the sports pitch and his colleague’s house by the Fjällbacka miniature golf course, Magnus Kjellner had vanished.

The police had examined every aspect of his life. They had put out an APB and spoken with more than fifty people, including co-workers, family member and friends. They had searched for debts that might have compelled him to flee, and for secret lovers. They investigated the possibility that he might have embezzled money from his employer – anything that might explain why a respectable man of forty with a wife and two teenage kids would suddenly just leave the house and disappear. But the police hadn’t found a single lead. There was nothing to indicate that he had travelled abroad, nor had any money been withdrawn from the couple’s joint bank account. Magnus Kjellner had simply vanished without trace.

After Patrik had shown Cia out, he knocked cautiously on Paula Morales’s door. ‘Come in,’ she said at once. He stepped inside, closing the door behind him.

‘Was it his wife again?’

‘Yes,’ said Patrik with a sigh, sitting down on the visitor’s chair. He put his feet up on the desk, but after a fierce look from Paula he quickly took them down.

‘Do you think he’s dead?’

‘I’m afraid so,’ said Patrik. For the first time voicing the suspicion he had felt ever since Magnus went missing. ‘We’ve checked out everything, and the guy had none of the usual reasons for disappearing. It seems he just left home one day and then … he was gone.’

‘But no body has been found.’

‘No, there’s no body,’ said Patrik. ‘And where are we supposed to look? We can’t drag the whole sea or search all the woods around Fjällbacka. All we can do is twiddle our thumbs and hope that someone finds him. Either dead or alive. Because I have no idea what else to do. And I don’t know what to say when Cia shows up here each week, expecting us to have made some sort of progress in the case.’

‘That’s just her way of dealing with the situation. It makes her feel like she’s doing something instead of simply sitting at home waiting for news. I know that would drive me crazy.’ Paula glanced at the photograph she kept next to her computer.

‘I understand that,’ said Patrik. ‘But it doesn’t make things any easier.’

‘No, of course not.’

For a few moments silence descended over the cramped office. At last Patrik stood up. ‘We’ll just have to hope that he turns up. One way or another.’

‘I suppose you’re right,’ said Paula. But she sounded just as dejected as Patrik.

The Drowning
by by Camilla Läckberg