Only One Life A Novel Online - Sara Blaedel Page 0,1

and the man shook hands with Louise. There was something hypercorrect about his well-dressed style, the shirt and tie under his leather jacket making him look more like a banker than an assistant detective.

Another man offered his hand to Louise.

“Mik Rasmussen,” he said.

Like Vukić and Louise herself, Mik was in his mid- to late thirties.

“Louise Rick,” she said. Out of habit she was about to add “Unit A,” but she caught herself. She quickly looked around at all the new faces. It was quite a small group, and she wondered briefly how she would fare at finding her place in this pack.

After the briefing that morning back at Copenhagen Police headquarters with Unit A—her homicide investigation unit—Captain Hans Suhr had opened the door to the office that Louise shared with her partner, Lars Jørgensen. Louise had just set her coffee cup on her desk and was asking her partner about his adopted twins, who were home sick with the flu, when Suhr uttered in two short sentences that Louise’s former partner Søren Velin was on his way to HQ to pick her up.

“Starting today you’ve been temporarily reassigned to the Unit One Mobile Task Force with the National Police,” he said, already on his way back out the door.

Louise quickly jumped to her feet and stopped him in the corridor, wanting to know what was going on. Suhr’s response was curt and clear: because she was deeply familiar with cases like this one. Then he hurried off.

Louise went back to her office and took a sip of her coffee, shaking her head in response to her partner’s raised eyebrows, meaning that Suhr hadn’t given her anything to go on.

“Rape, I’m assuming,” she said on her way out the door with her bag over her shoulder, telling Lars she hoped his twins would feel better soon. On her way down the back stairwell to the exit onto Otto Mønstedsgade she thought it must be a rape case of a certain caliber since a local police force had called for assistance. It was only after she was sitting in the car next to Søren Velin heading out toward Cape Tuse—or more specifically, a nature preserve out there with the unusual name of Hønsehalsen, “the Chicken Neck”—that she realized she had misunderstood her boss.

“I have no idea whether rape was involved,” her former partner told her as she started asking him about the case, preparing for what lay ahead. “But it looks like the girl is from an immigrant background, and my understanding is that that’s why Storm really wanted you on this case.”

Louise sighed. She had just wrapped up a case like this, and she was still having such a difficult time letting go of it that she was considering seeing one of the police psychologists at the Counseling Services Unit to avoid any permanent trauma. As a young officer, she had always taken it hard whenever she was confronted with people’s personal tragedies, and she had worked to learn how to handle this. Even so, she still sometimes found herself succumbing again, and that’s what had happened with her last case, an attempted “honor” killing. The case had ended with a charge of aggravated assault, but Louise and the rest of her investigative team had absolutely no doubt that certain members of that family had actually intended to kill the sixteen-year-old girl, but they had botched the job, so now their eldest daughter was a vegetable in the neurology department at National Hospital in downtown Copenhagen.

“She was lying on her stomach,” Storm explained, pointing to a spot on their right not far out into the sound. “We don’t know who she is, but we think she’s between fourteen and sixteen years old, give or take. She didn’t have a purse or any type of ID on her.”

“The canine unit is on its way. Then we’ll have to see whether they can find anything that could identify her,” Bengtsen interrupted, coming over to stand next to the Mobile Task Force captain. “We can probably assume she was thrown into the water from a boat,” he continued, both hands still in his pockets and his eyes scanning the water. “It’s too deep here for anyone to have carried her out. A slab of concrete like that weighs quite a bit.”

Louise heard car doors slam shut and noticed a blue van now parked next to the other vehicles, and two men putting on their work clothes. She recognized one of them as Frandsen, head