Annikas First Day of School (I am a STAR Personalized Book Series 1)

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Looks like gunshot wounds to the head and groin. His right eye was closed, as if he were still asleep. In place of the left eye was a gaping entry hole into his skull. The flow of blood had stopped, his heart had stopped beating. His bowels had opened, leaving a brown sludge of acrid-smelling excrement on the mattress. Nina put her gun in its holster and hurried out into the hall, opened the bathroom door and held her breath.

Julia was lying on the floor next to the bath. Her hair was like a pale halo around her head, partially smeared in a mess of vomited spaghetti and sauce. She was wearing pants and a large T-shirt; her knees were pulled up to her chin in a fetal position. She was lying on one hand and the other was cramped in a fist. She brushed her hair away from her face and saw that her eyes were wide open. Her face was covered with pale-red splatters of blood. A string of saliva was hanging from the corner of her mouth down to the floor. A rattling breath made the woman jerk, as she gasped before her stomach retched once more.

What happened? Are you hurt? It was racing. There should be a four-year-old here somewhere. Start questioning the neighbors. Take Erlandsson first, then the others on this floor. And check to see if whoever delivers the papers saw anything, he must have only just been. Have you searched all the rooms? Even checked the oven. Her colleague shifted his weight from one foot to the other. Nina was still supporting her head with her left hand. No wounds, not even a scratch. No weapon. In the distance she could hear the sound of sirens and was gripped by panic.

Tell me! The sun was rising over the horizon as the car passed the city limits at Roslagstull, coloring the rooftops a blazing red. The taxi driver kept glancing at her in the rearview mirror, but she pretended not to notice. Her house had just burned down. Both she and the children smelled of smoke, and her cornflower-blue top had soot stains on it. I bring death and misery with me. Everyone I love dies. Stop it, she thought sternly, biting the inside of her cheek. I made it, after all.

Annika closed her eyes. Six months ago she had discovered that Thomas, her husband, had been having an affair with a female colleague, an icy little blonde called Sophia Grenborg. Annika had put a stop to the relationship, but she had never confronted Thomas and told him that she knew. Yesterday he had found out that she had known all along. She wanted us to meet again.

Her eyes were stinging and she opened them wide to stop the tears from overflowing. If you go now, you can never come back. He had stared at her with his new, strange, narrow gaze; his red, terrible, dead eyes. And she had watched him cross the parquet floor and pick up his briefcase and open the front door and go out into the gray mist. He had left her, and someone had thrown three firebombs into the house. She held the children more tightly. It served him right.

The betrayer. The deceiver. Come on, darlings. Kalle whimpered in his sleep. Annika shepherded the children out of the car, turned round, and dropped her phone on the backseat. He was falling asleep. How pretty he is, and how young. Scarcely more than a boy. It had, but not much. Too fat, she thought. Or too old. What had been most exciting for her had been the taste of strong lager in his mouth.

She felt rather ashamed at the realization. It was six months since she last drank any alcohol. It felt like an eternity. She rolled onto her side and studied the profile of the young man beside her. This could be the start of something new, something fresh and fun and good. It would look great in the little boxes of basic information when the papers interviewed her: Family: daughter, 5, and boyfriend, She reached out a hand to touch his hair, the hard clumps almost like dreadlocks.

She pulled the sheet under her chin and tried to smile. The doorbell rang again. She fumbled with the lock and swallowed something which may have been a sob. Annika was standing outside with Kalle and Ellen. Burned down? Behind her she could hear Robin flush the toilet. Kalle started to cry, which started Ellen off as well.

Anne felt the chill from the stairwell around her feet and tucked the sheet around her legs. Anne tried to smile. Anne could hear Robin moving in the bedroom. Perhaps you think I should sleep in the street with the kids? Who the hell is she to accuse me?

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Because you paid for this flat? She knew it, he was going to leave her now, and to get him to stay a bit longer she went out into the stairwell and closed the door behind her. Anne could hardly keep her voice under control when she replied. After Michelle died, when Highlander rang you and offered you her job, but I was the one who should have got that job!

Do you begrudge me that chance? Do you? He had pulled on his jeans and top and was doing up one of his trainers. Instead she tried to relax and let it fall to the floor, reaching out her arms to him, to show him that she was opening herself to him. He leaned down, embarrassed, looking for his other shoe. Anne picked up the sheet again and wrapped it around her. He paused just one awkward second too long. He swallowed and looked down, then kissed her quickly on the ear. Nina was surprised at how young he was, younger than her.

He gave her a quick glance as he walked over to the gurney where Julia was lying. The door closed behind him. Nina suppressed an urge to unbutton her bulletproof vest. At first I thought she was dead. Maiden name Hansen. No cuts? He felt her neck. I want to see if you react to pain. Nina nodded. They stop eating and drinking. Will everything get back to normal? The blood on her face had dried up and got darker. Julia had looked desperate, chapped red marks on her cheeks. They were still visible under the blood. How long ago was that, three weeks? Do you believe that? Nina looked up at the doctor, who was sitting by the end of the gurney, focusing on filling in a form.

The door closed slowly with a sucking sound. Steps hurrying past in the corridor, a phone ringing, a child crying. Nina looked round the sterile room. It was cramped and cool, windowless, harsh light coming from flickering tubes in the ceiling. Look at me. Anger rose through Nina like acrid vomit. She turned away from Julia and stared into a cupboard full of bandages as she pulled out the microphone and pressed the transmit button on the side. Someone who can guard her.

Of course, Julia was a suspect. The prime suspect in a police murder. She left the room without looking at Julia again. He was also personally responsible for several of the most remarkable police operations of recent decades, helping to solve the most brutal and complex cases in Swedish criminal history.

David Lindholm grew up in a well-to-do home in Djursholm on the outskirts of Stockholm.


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In spite of his background he opted for a career as a regular police officer. After several years in the tough environment of the rapid-response unit of Norrmalm Police, he was promoted to detective and chief negotiator. David Lindholm established contact with the man, and after two hours of negotiation he was able to walk out to a waiting patrol car, arm in arm with the disarmed criminal. While questioning an American who had been sentenced to life imprisonment two years ago, David Lindholm successfully extracted information that led to the robbery of a security van in Botkyrka being solved.

Five men were arrested and the majority of the takings, thirteen million kronor, was recovered. It was daylight now, and the traffic was already building up. She glanced at her watch—twenty-five minutes to six. A form? How can I be thinking about what forms need filling in? What sort of person am I? She took a deep breath that ended up as a sob. Her hands were shaking on the wheel, and she had to make a real effort to calm them.

Right onto Hornsgatan. Change gear. Pull away gently. Then the thought that had been lurking at the back of her mind since she walked through the door into the flat: Must ring Holger and Viola. The only question was what justification, what excuse she could find for telling them what had happened. Decency, possibly just basic morality. They had probably saved her from the life that her two siblings ended up with.

She had spent many long weeks each summer out on the farm while her mother worked shifts in the chicken factory in Valla. During term time, she would often go home with Julia and have tea at the big gate-legged table in the farmhouse kitchen. She could still remember the taste of the oxtail soup and sandwiches, the faint smell of farmyard that always hung around Holger.

Nina shook herself to stop herself from getting too sentimental. I was lucky, having Julia. Some drunk teenagers wearing school-graduation caps were staggering about on the pavement to her left. She sharpened her gaze and looked at them carefully. They were walking along, arm in arm, three boys and a girl. The girl could hardly stand, and the boys were more or less dragging her along. One of the boys caught sight of her and started making obscene gestures at the police car, first one finger, followed by rutting movements.

She switched on the blue lights and siren for three seconds, and the effect on the youngsters was instantaneous. They ran off like antelopes in the other direction, the girl as well. So much for being drunk. She pulled up and parked outside the station, switching off the engine. The silence that followed was so great that it echoed. She sat there for several minutes, listening to it. There had to be some limit to her responsibility for humanity on a morning like this. Pettersson, the station head, was on the phone when she went in, and waved at her to sit down opposite him.

A lot of our officers. Okay, it is, then. Every police district in the country is joining in. Pettersson lost his train of thought with a look of surprise, then irritation. Apparently radio news want to do a live broadcast. Nina took out her notebook. She ran through all the facts in a monotonous voice, the call at , suspected shots heard on Bondegatan.

Because the command unit and rapid-response squad were both out in Djursholm, Hoffman in was put in charge of the operation. The informant, a Gunnar Erlandsson, a resident of the building in question, reported that he had been woken by what he thought were shots in the flat above. When there was no response from the apartment in question, patrol , together with patrol , gained entry under paragraph 21 of police regulations, suspecting that any delay could exacerbate the situation.

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In the flat they found two people, David Lindholm and Julia Lindholm. David Lindholm was lying on the bed, shot twice, in the head and torso. Julia Lindholm was found in the bathroom in a state of severe shock. Nina closed her notebook and looked up at Pettersson. He was shaking his head again. The other woman, she took Alexander. Was there anyone else in the flat? Looks like she was more crazy that anyone imagined. His room was empty. Just choose your words carefully. Pettersson looked at her intently for a few seconds, then he stood up and stretched his back.

All comments go through the press officer, no leaks to that woman on the Evening Post. She sat down, switched on the computer, and went into the database for reporting incidents. She systematically set about clicking and filling in the relevant information in the correct boxes, time of call, personnel involved, address of crime scene, injured party, deceased, suspect. She would be listed as the author of this report. She was the one who had to record all these first, preliminary details, she had to formulate the case. Suspect: Julia Lindholm. She pushed the keyboard away and went out into the corridor, taking a few aimless steps to the right, then turning and going left instead.

I need something, she thought. A sandwich from the machine? The very idea made her feel queasy. She went over to the confectionary vending machine instead. All that was left were bags of sour sweets. She found a ten-kronor coin in her pocket and bought the last-but-one packet. Pettersson looked up from his computer screen and glanced at her. The murder victim, or his family? She turned to leave.

She stopped and looked back over her shoulder. They really were sour. Instead of clicking in the box for suspect, she picked up a form for recording instances where paragraph 21 of police legislation had been applied. In the end she had filled in all the forms she could find to fill in, including the spontaneous interview with Erlandsson on the second floor. She stared at the screen. Nick Aikens, Elizabeth Robles Eds. What do we know? What do we have? What do we miss? What do we love? Intersubjectivity Vol. Yes, but is it performable? The only performances that make it all the way Wolfgang Tillmans, Brigitte Oetker Eds.

What Is Different? Jahresring 64 Pierre Bal-Blanc Ed. Daniel S. Berger, John Neff Eds. Was ist anders? When Is the Digital in Architecture? Decency, possibly just basic morality. They had probably saved her from the life that her two siblings ended up with. She had spent many long weeks each summer out on the farm while her mother worked shifts in the chicken factory in Valla.

During term time, she would often go home with Julia and have tea at the big gate-legged table in the farmhouse kitchen. She could still remember the taste of the oxtail soup and sandwiches, the faint smell of farmyard that always hung around Holger. Nina shook herself to stop herself from getting too sentimental. I was lucky, having Julia. Some drunk teenagers wearing school-graduation caps were staggering about on the pavement to her left. She sharpened her gaze and looked at them carefully.

They were walking along, arm in arm, three boys and a girl. The girl could hardly stand, and the boys were more or less dragging her along. One of the boys caught sight of her and started making obscene gestures at the police car, first one finger, followed by rutting movements. She switched on the blue lights and siren for three seconds, and the effect on the youngsters was instantaneous.

They ran off like antelopes in the other direction, the girl as well. So much for being drunk. She pulled up and parked outside the station, switching off the engine. The silence that followed was so great that it echoed. She sat there for several minutes, listening to it.


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There had to be some limit to her responsibility for humanity on a morning like this. Pettersson, the station head, was on the phone when she went in, and waved at her to sit down opposite him. A lot of our officers. Okay, it is, then. Every police district in the country is joining in. Pettersson lost his train of thought with a look of surprise, then irritation. Apparently radio news want to do a live broadcast. Nina took out her notebook. She ran through all the facts in a monotonous voice, the call at , suspected shots heard on Bondegatan.

Because the command unit and rapid-response squad were both out in Djursholm, Hoffman in was put in charge of the operation. The informant, a Gunnar Erlandsson, a resident of the building in question, reported that he had been woken by what he thought were shots in the flat above. When there was no response from the apartment in question, patrol , together with patrol , gained entry under paragraph 21 of police regulations, suspecting that any delay could exacerbate the situation.

In the flat they found two people, David Lindholm and Julia Lindholm. David Lindholm was lying on the bed, shot twice, in the head and torso. Julia Lindholm was found in the bathroom in a state of severe shock. Nina closed her notebook and looked up at Pettersson.

He was shaking his head again. The other woman, she took Alexander. Was there anyone else in the flat? Looks like she was more crazy that anyone imagined. His room was empty. Just choose your words carefully. Pettersson looked at her intently for a few seconds, then he stood up and stretched his back. All comments go through the press officer, no leaks to that woman on the Evening Post.

She sat down, switched on the computer, and went into the database for reporting incidents. She systematically set about clicking and filling in the relevant information in the correct boxes, time of call, personnel involved, address of crime scene, injured party, deceased, suspect. She would be listed as the author of this report.

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She was the one who had to record all these first, preliminary details, she had to formulate the case. Suspect: Julia Lindholm. She pushed the keyboard away and went out into the corridor, taking a few aimless steps to the right, then turning and going left instead. I need something, she thought. A sandwich from the machine? The very idea made her feel queasy. She went over to the confectionary vending machine instead. All that was left were bags of sour sweets. She found a ten-kronor coin in her pocket and bought the last-but-one packet.

Pettersson looked up from his computer screen and glanced at her. The murder victim, or his family? She turned to leave. She stopped and looked back over her shoulder. They really were sour. Instead of clicking in the box for suspect, she picked up a form for recording instances where paragraph 21 of police legislation had been applied.

In the end she had filled in all the forms she could find to fill in, including the spontaneous interview with Erlandsson on the second floor. She stared at the screen. Clicked on suspect. Quickly typed Julia Lindholm. She logged out and closed the program, then hurried out of the room before her thoughts caught up with her. Do they have peanut butter here?

She had no idea where she was. Her head was like a big lump of rock, and there was a big black hole in her chest.


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The room. She rolled over in bed to look at her children. They were sitting next to each other in their pajamas, bright eyed, hair a mess. How can I answer that? Groggily, she fumbled her way out of the damp sheets and pulled the children toward her without a word and held them, held them in her arms and rocked them gently while the hole in her chest grew.

All the emails stored in it. My phone book and diary. Our wedding presents. The pram. Their old flat on Kungsholmen had been sold to a gay couple who had already moved in and ripped out the kitchen. She had a vague idea that there was a hotel in the neighborhood, but she spent three quarters of an hour walking round in circles before she found it.

She was on the point of collapse when she stumbled into reception. The receptionist got a scared look in her eyes when Annika explained how they came to be there. They were given a room on the second floor. The restaurant was a minimalist, ambitious affair with a glass wall onto the street, walls covered by bookcases and steel and cherrywood furniture. The clock behind the counter said quarter past nine, she had slept for about four hours. The breakfast buffet had been stripped bare, a real mess, and the room was half empty. The businessmen had all gone off to their important meetings, leaving just one middle-aged couple and three Japanese tourists to stare at her and the children, at her torn jeans and soot-stained designer top, at Kalle in his silky Batman pajamas and Ellen in her flannel pajamas with butterflies on.

She clenched her jaw and filled a teacup with coffee, then helped herself to a yogurt and three slices of gravlax. I need some help. She had found the Cartoon Network on the hotel television perched up near the ceiling, and had put the children back to bed, each with a little box of frosted cereal in place of sweets. Then she had shut herself inside the bathroom, where there was another phone, and called her colleague in the newsroom. I read about the fire on the agency feed, but I had no idea it was your house. Bloody hell! No one died, after all. Annika could feel the chill of the porcelain creep up toward her neck.

It could just as easily be people, or projects, or ambitions. Was that true? The children had no clothes, and her computer had gone up in flames, but pretty much everything else was still there. Apart from Thomas. And Anne. She got up and looked in the mirror. Only the children left. Me and the children, everything else has been stripped away. She had lost. The only advantage of the reorganization was that he was in direct contact with the newsroom, and could sit in his office and watch the work in progress out there.

Nowadays the website was updated round the clock, apart from a few hours of downtime around four in the morning, and not just text had to be updated, but video content, radio, adverts too. The ever-earlier print deadlines for the paper meant that the whole production process had been brought forward, and these days everything was done during the day, which was new.

Tradition dictated that the evening papers were put together at night, preferably by a gang of hard-drinking, weather-bitten editors with red eyes and nicotine-stained typewriter fingers. Today there were hardly any such relics left on the paper. They had either adapted to the new age, kicked the booze, and polished their shoes, or been cleared out during one of the rationalization programs and sent off with a redundancy package and early pension. Anders let out a deep sigh. Over the years the feeling that something was slipping from his grasp had been getting stronger and stronger.

Recently he had begun to get an idea of what it was: the very point of what they were doing, the fundamentals of journalism. Nowadays it was so important to keep the website updated above all else that occasionally everyone forgot that you actually had to have something to say as well. He remembered the old mantra that their rivals used to throw at the Evening Post in the old days when the paper sold more copies in Sweden than any other: biggest, but never first.

Most, but never best. Now everything was done much faster, at the cost of truth and good reporting. The problem was that all this was old news. Even though the paper had scarcely reached the newsstands, the articles were already boring and uninteresting, because now David Lindholm had been found murdered in his bed, and his wife was suspected of murder. There was an endless torrent of praise for the dead police officer on the net. His talent lay in his insight into human nature, and in his astonishing ability to communicate.

As a interviewer he was unbeatable, he was the most loyal friend ever, his intuition was staggering.

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How do I handle this? Anders wondered, realizing that his thoughts were going slowly in a brain that was no longer particularly used to wrestling with ethical dilemmas. His marrow, which should have been dominated by basic journalistic principles like news evaluation, checking sources, and reflecting upon whether or not to identify people by name, had little space for anything but financial analysis and sales figures. He looked out over the newsroom.

The first thing I need to do is get an awareness of the situation, he thought, standing up decisively and striding out into the newsroom. Spike picked up the hint and dropped them to the floor. Our rivals and the oh-so-refined morning rag have already got character assassinations online. Berit Hamrin came over to the desk with her handbag swinging from her shoulder and her coat over her arm. The reporter took a step closer to Schyman.

Was this good or bad? Were ethical discussions at the news desk a sign of rude health, or did they made him look weak? He decided it was probably the latter. Berit Hamrin responded by pulling on her coat. The reporter turned and disappeared toward the stairs leading down to the garage. Schyman realized that he was still holding out his hand toward his office beyond the comment section. Anders Schyman turned on his heel and went back inside his office. A thought took root and chafed against his ego: What am I actually doing here?

Annika switched it off. Annika helped Ellen brush her teeth and caught sight of her own eyes in the mirror. Her pupils were enlarged, almost covering her irises, as if the hole in her chest were visible in her eyes. Her colleague stood up and pulled an envelope out of her handbag, and handed it to Annika. You can pay me back later. Berit looked around the cramped room. The clouds were hanging thick and gray in the sky; the wind was gusty and cold. Annika pulled her new cardigan more tightly around her. Annika forced herself to smile at them.

Annika gulped. Berit sat down beside her and looked over at the children, who had slowly started to take possession of the playground. Ellen was laughing her little head off. Do you remember that series of articles, about women exposed to danger in the course of the their work? They each took a handful, she picking out the pink ones, and he the green. Hands chopped off and all that? She had been heavily pregnant with Ellen that spring, and at the Evening Post pregnant reporters were treated as if they were suffering from severe senile dementia: in a friendly, firm, and utterly undemanding way.

Eventually she had nagged her way into a fairly relaxed job, a series of workplace reports about women doing what were usually dangerous jobs for men. It was a cold night, quiet, and she had plenty of time to talk to the two officers. They had been close friends since they were children, had attended Police Academy together, and now worked at the same police station. One of them, Julia, revealed that she was pregnant as well. No one at work knew about it yet, she was only in the fourteenth week, and she felt violently sick all the time.

It was a routine call; a neighbor had phoned in to complain about fighting and shouting from the flat downstairs. Annika asked if she could come along, and they let her, as long as she agreed to stay in the background. She had crawled out into the stairwell and was still alive when the police patrol turned up. Her right hand was missing and blood was pumping out of the severed veins, running over the stone floor and down the stairs and splashing the walls whenever she moved her arm.

Julia had thrown up in a window alcove, and Nina had forced Annika back down to the street with astonishing force and efficiency. He denied it but was still found guilty. Her body felt heavy as cement, and she could no longer feel the cold. She seemed so timid. Thord is in Dalsland this weekend, fly-fishing with his brother. You can stay in the guest cottage, if you like. Annika had been out there a couple of times. In the summer it was absolutely idyllic, with the lake, and horses in the paddock. There were an unusual number of uniforms in the small staff room. They were standing in small groups with their backs to her, their heads close together.

The hum of their voices sounded like air-conditioning, low and constant. This is what grief sounds like, she thought, without quite understanding where the idea came from. When she eventually drifted off, her dreams had been so confused and unsettling that she chose to get up instead. She pushed her way in behind Pettersson, who was blocking the door, and made her way over to the coffee machine.

In places she had to squeeze sideways between people, muttering apologies and stepping over helmets and boots and jackets. The further she got, the quieter it seemed. By the time she reached the coffee machine there was complete silence around her. She raised her head and looked round. Everyone in the room was staring at her.

They looked skeptical, their faces closed.

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She got the feeling that they were all leaning back, away from her. No one spoke. She turned away from the coffee, stood with her legs fairly wide apart, put her hands behind her back, and looked her colleagues in the eye. All of a sudden there was total silence again. Nina craned her neck to see who had shouted. His face was dark from lack of sleep and grief, his shoulders were up by his ears, his heavy body moving only with difficulty.

How the fuck did that happen? How do you explain that? He was glaring at her with such undisguised derision and ill will that she had to take a deep breath before she spoke.

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There was a ripple around him, as if several other men were following his example. She turned and forced her way toward the door. She could feel tears burning in her throat and had no intention of standing there and giving him the satisfaction of seeing her break down in front of the entire station. The introduction to Swedish Television news flickered across the screen in front of Nina. Everyone fell silent and the uniforms turned in unison to face the screen. Nina stopped and looked at the television, where someone in a Hawaiian shirt settled behind a desk up on the rostrum of the large conference room of Police Headquarters over on Kungsholmen.

Two men and a woman sat down beside him; Nina recognized the police press officer and the head of the National Crime Unit. She had never seen the woman before. A storm of flashbulbs broke over their clenched features, and the press officer said something into the microphone.

She had a blond page cut and was wearing a bright-red suit.