Read The Troubled Man Online

Authors: Henning Mankell

The Troubled Man (56 page)

Wallander had no more questions for the moment. Nothing of what Nordlander said was surprising or unexpected. Wallander received the answers he thought he would get. He poured himself some tea and decided that the time was now ripe.

“We spoke earlier about there being a spy in the Swedish military. Somebody who was never exposed.”

“Rumors like that are always flying around. If you don’t have anything else to talk about, you can speculate about moles digging their tunnels.”

“If I’ve understood those rumors correctly they suggested there was a spy who was in many ways more dangerous than Wennerström.”

“I don’t know about that, but I suppose a spy you don’t catch is always going to be a bigger threat than any other.”

Wallander nodded.

“There was also another rumor,” he continued. “Or rather, there is a rumor that still persists. That this unknown spy is in fact a woman.”

“I don’t think anybody believed that. Not in my circles, at any rate. There are so few women in the armed forces with access to classified documents, it’s just not credible.”

“Did you ever speak to Håkan about this?”

“A woman spy? No, never.”

“Louise was a spy,” Wallander said slowly. “She spied for the Soviet Union.”

At first Sten Nordlander didn’t seem to grasp what Wallander had said. Then he realized the significance of what he had just heard.

“It can’t be possible.”

“It not only
can be
, it

“Well, I don’t believe it. What proof do you have?”

“The police found microfilms of classified documents, and also several photographic negatives hidden in Louise’s purse. I don’t know exactly what they were, but I’ve become convinced that they prove she was participating in high-level espionage. Against Sweden, for Russia, and before that for the Soviet Union. In other words, she was active for a very long time.”

Sten Nordlander eyed him incredulously.

“Do you really expect me to believe this?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Questions are welling up inside me, arguments protesting that what you say can’t be true.”

“But can you know beyond question that I’m wrong?”

Nordlander froze, beer glass in hand.

“Is Håkan involved in this as well? Did they operate as a pair?”

“That’s hardly credible.”

Nordlander slammed his glass down on the table.

“Do you know or don’t you? Why don’t you tell me straight?”

“There’s nothing to suggest that Håkan cooperated with Louise.”

“Then why is he hiding himself away?”

“Because he suspected her. He was on her trail for many years. In the end he began to fear for his own life. He thought Louise realized that he suspected her, and that meant there was a significant risk that he might be murdered.”

“But Louise is the one who’s dead.”

“Don’t forget that when her body was found, Håkan had already been missing for a long time.”

·   ·   ·

Wallander watched a new Sten Nordlander emerging. He was normally energetic and straightforward, but now he seemed to be shrinking. The confusion he felt was changing him.

There was a minor commotion at a neighboring table: a drunken man fell over and knocked down several bottles and glasses. A security officer came hurrying up, and calm was soon restored. Wallander drank his tea. Sten Nordlander had stood up and walked over to the fence. He gazed down at the city stretching out before him. When he returned, Wallander said, “I need your help to persuade Håkan to return.”

“What can I do?”

“You’re his best friend. I want you to come with me on a trip. I’ll tell you where tomorrow. Can we use your car? Can you leave your boat for twenty-four hours or so?”

“No problem.”

“Pick me up at three o’clock tomorrow outside the hotel. Dress for rain. I have to go now.”

He didn’t let Nordlander ask any questions. He didn’t look around as he walked back to the hotel. He still wasn’t absolutely certain that he could rely on Sten Nordlander, but he had made his choice and there was no going back now.

That night he lay awake for hours, tossing and turning between the damp sheets. In his dream he saw Baiba hovering over the ground, her face completely transparent.

He left the hotel early the next morning and took a taxi out to Djurgården, where he lay down under a tree and slept for a while. He used his bag containing the shotgun as a pillow. When he woke up, he strolled back through town to the hotel. He was waiting there when Sten Nordlander drove up to the entrance. Wallander put his bag in the backseat.

“Where are we going?”



“A hundred and twenty miles or so, maybe a bit more. But there’s no hurry.”

They drove out of Stockholm and set out on the highway.

“What’s in store for us?” Nordlander asked.

“You’ll just have to listen to a conversation, that’s all.”

Nordlander asked no questions. Does he know where we’re going? Wallander wondered. Is he only pretending to be surprised? Wallander wasn’t sure. Deep down, of course, there was a reason why he had taken his guns
with him. I brought them because I can’t be sure that I won’t have to defend myself, he thought. I just hope it won’t be necessary.

They reached the harbor at about ten o’clock. Wallander had insisted on a long stop in Söderköping, where they ate dinner. They sat in silence, contemplating the river that flowed through the town and admiring all the plants and bushes coming into bloom on its banks. The boat Wallander had reserved was waiting for them in the inner dock.

By about eleven they were approaching their destination. Wallander switched off the engine and allowed the boat to drift in to land. He listened. Not a sound to be heard. Sten Nordlander’s face was almost invisible in the darkness.

Then they stepped ashore.


They moved cautiously through the late-summer darkness. Wallander had whispered to Nordlander that he should stay close to him, without giving any explanation. The moment they arrived at the island, Wallander felt quite certain that Sten Nordlander didn’t know anything about Håkan von Enke’s hideaway. It would have been impossible for anybody to conceal so skillfully any knowledge about where they might find the man they were looking for.

Wallander paused when he saw the light from one of the windows in the hunting lodge. He could also hear the sound of music above the sighing of the waves. It took several seconds before he realized that a window was open. He turned to Sten Nordlander and whispered, “You find it hard to believe that Louise von Enke was a spy?”

“Do you find that odd?”

“Not at all.”

“I hear what you’re saying, but I refuse to believe that it’s true.”

“You’re absolutely right,” said Wallander slowly. “What I’m telling you is what they
us to believe.”

Nordlander shook his head.

“Now you’ve lost me.”

“There were items in Louise’s purse indicating that she was a spy. But
those things could have been planted there after she was dead. Whoever killed her also tried to make it look like a suicide. When I met Håkan here on the island he told me in minute detail how he had suspected for many years that Louise was a spy. It sounded very convincing. But then I began to understand what I had overlooked earlier. You might say that I held up a mirror and observed all the events in reverse.”

“And what did you see?”

“Something that turned everything upside down. What is it they say? You have to stand things on their head in order to see them the right way up? That’s how it was for me, in any case.”

“Are you saying that Louise wasn’t a spy after all, then? If not, what
you saying?”

Wallander didn’t answer his question.

“I want you to sneak up to the house wall,” he said. “Stand there, and listen in.”

“To what?”

“To the conversation I’m going to have with Håkan von Enke.”

“But why all this pussyfooting around in the darkness?”

“If he knows you’re here, he may not tell the truth.”

Nordlander shook his head. But he made no further comment and edged his way toward the house. Wallander stayed still. Thanks to his alarm system, von Enke would know that somebody was moving around on the island. The hope was that he wouldn’t realize there was more than one person outside his hunting lodge.

Nordlander reached the house wall. Wallander would never have noticed him if he hadn’t known he was there. But he continued to wait, not moving a muscle. He felt a strange mixture of calm and uneasiness. The end of the story is nigh, he thought. Am I right, or have I made a huge mistake?

He regretted not having explained to Nordlander that the mission might take some time.

A night bird fluttered past, then vanished. Wallander listened into the darkness for any noise that would tell him Håkan von Enke was on his way. Nordlander was standing motionless by the house wall. The music was still oozing out through the open window.

He gave a start when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned and found himself looking into Håkan von Enke’s face.

“Are you here again?” said von Enke in a low voice. “We didn’t arrange this. I could have mistaken you for an intruder. What do you want?”

“I want to speak to you.”

“Did something happen?”

“All kinds of things have happened. As I’m sure you know, I went to Berlin and talked to your old friend George Talboth. I must say that he behaved exactly as I had expected a high-ranking CIA officer to act.”

Wallander had prepared himself as best he could. He knew he couldn’t afford to exaggerate. He had to speak loudly enough for Nordlander to hear what was being said, but not so loudly that von Enke would suspect there was somebody else in the vicinity, listening in.

“George said you seemed to be a good man.”

“I’ve never seen an aquarium like the one he showed me.”

“It’s remarkable. Especially the trains traveling through their little tunnels.”

A gust of wind whooshed past, then all was quiet again.

“How did you get here?” von Enke asked.

“With the same boat as last time.”

“And you came on your own?”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“Questions in answer to questions always make me suspicious.”

Von Enke suddenly switched on a flashlight that he’d been hiding next to his body. He aimed it at Wallander’s face. Third degree, Wallander thought. As long as he doesn’t shine the light at the house and discover Sten Nordlander. That would ruin everything.

The flashlight was switched off.

“We don’t need to mess around out here.”

Wallander followed in von Enke’s footsteps. When they entered the house he switched off the radio. Nothing in the room had changed since Wallander’s earlier visit.

Von Enke was on his guard. Wallander couldn’t work out if that was due to his instinct, warning him of danger, or if it was just natural suspicion following Wallander’s sudden appearance on the island.

“You must have a motive,” said von Enke, slowly. “A sudden visit like this, in the middle of the night?”

“I just wanted to talk to you.”

“About your visit to Berlin?”

“No, not about that.”

“Then explain yourself.”

Wallander hoped that Nordlander could hear this conversation, standing
outside the window. What if von Enke suddenly decided to close it? I have no time to spare, Wallander concluded. I have to come straight to the point.

“Explain yourself,” von Enke said again.

“It’s about Louise,” Wallander said. “The truth about her.”

“Isn’t that what we talked about last time we were sitting here?”

“It is. But you didn’t tell me the truth.”

Von Enke looked at him with the same noncommittal expression as before.

“Something didn’t add up,” said Wallander. “It was as if I were looking up in the air when I should have been examining the ground at my feet. That happened when I visited Berlin. It suddenly became clear to me that George Talboth wasn’t just answering my questions. He was also investigating, very discreetly and skillfully, how much I knew. Once I realized that, I discovered something else as well. Something horrific, shameful, a betrayal so despicable and misanthropic that I didn’t want to believe it at first. What I believed, what Ytterberg thought, what you said and George Talboth maintained, was not the truth at all. I was being used, exploited. I had stumbled obediently straight into all the traps that had been set for me. But that also opened my eyes to another person.”


“The person we can call the real Louise. She was never a spy. She wasn’t false in any way; she was the most genuine person imaginable. The first time I met her I was struck by her lovely smile. I thought about that again when we met in Djursholm. I was convinced later that she had been using that smile to conceal her big secret—until I realized that her smile was absolutely genuine.”

“Have you come here to talk about my dead wife’s smile?”

Wallander shook his head in resignation. The whole situation had become so repugnant that he didn’t know how he was going to handle it. He should have been infuriated, but he didn’t have the strength.

“I’ve come here because I’ve discovered the truth I’ve been searching for. Louise has never been remotely close to being a spy and betraying her country. I should have understood that much sooner. But I allowed myself to be deceived.”

“Who deceived you?”

“I did. I was just as misled as everybody else into believing that the enemy always came from the east. But the one who deceived me most was you. The real spy.”

·   ·   ·

Still the same expressionless face, Wallander thought. But how long can he keep it up?

“Are you suggesting that I am a spy?”


“You’re alleging that I spied for the Soviet Union or Russia? You’re crazy!”

“I said nothing about the former Soviet Union or the new Russia. I said that you are a spy. For the U.S.A. You have been for many years, Håkan. For exactly how long and how it all started are questions only you can answer. Nor do I know what your motives are. It wasn’t you who suspected Louise; she was the one who suspected you of being an American agent. That was what killed her.”

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