When someone answered, he asked to be connected to the police. The conversation was brief. Then he threw the phone into the lake, put on his backpack and walked away into the night.
The wind was blowing from the east now and was growing stronger.
It was the end of August and Linda Caroline Wallander wondered if there
were any traits that she and her father had in common which yet remained
to be discovered, even though she was almost 30 years old and ought to
know who she was by this time. She had asked her father, had even tried
to press him on it, but he seemed genuinely puzzled by her questions and
brushed them aside, saying that she more resembled her grandfather.
These "who-am-I-like?" conversations, as she called them, sometimes
ended in fierce arguments. They kindled quickly, but they also died away
almost at once. She forgot about most of them and supposed that he did
There had been one argument this summer which she had not been able to forget. It had been nothing really. They had been discussing their differing memories of a holiday they took to the island of Bornholm when she was little. For Linda there was more than this episode at stake; it was as if through reclaiming this memory she was on the verge of gaining access to a much larger part of her early life. She had been six, maybe seven years old, and both Mona and her father had been there. The idiotic argument had begun over whether or not it had been windy that day. Her father claimed she had been seasick and had thrown up all over his jacket, but Linda remembered the sea as blue and perfectly calm. They had only ever taken this one trip to Bornholm so it couldn't have been a case of their having mixed up several trips. Her mother had never liked boat journeys and her father was surprised she had agreed to this one holiday to Bornholm.
That evening, after the argument had ended, Linda had had trouble falling asleep. She was due to start working at the Ystad police station in two months. She had graduated from the police training college in Stockholm and would have much rather started working right away, but here she was with nothing to do all summer and her father couldn't keep her company since he had used up most of his holiday allowance in May. That was when he thought he had bought a house and would need extra time for moving. He had the house under contract. It was in Svarte, just south of the main road, right next to the sea. But the vendor changed her mind at the last minute. Perhaps because she couldn't stand the thought of entrusting her carefully tended roses and rhododendron bushes to a man who talked only about where he was going to put the kennel--when he finally bought a dog. She broke the contract and her father's agent suggested he ask for compensation, but he chose not to. The whole episode was already over in his mind.
He hunted for another house that cold and windy summer, but either they were too expensive or just not the house he had been dreaming of all those years in the flat on Mariagatan. He stayed on in the flat and asked himself if he was ever really going to move. When Linda graduated from the police training college, he drove up to Stockholm and helped her move her things to Ystad. She had arranged to rent a flat starting in September. Until then she could have her old room back.
Excerpted from Before the Frost by Henning Mankell Copyright © 2006 by Henning Mankell. Excerpted by permission of Vintage, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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