Read My First Murder Online

Authors: Leena Lehtolainen

My First Murder

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Text copyright © 1993 by Leena Lehtolainen
English translation copyright © 2012 Owen Witesman

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by AmazonCrossing
P.O. Box 400818
Las Vegas, NV 89140

ISBN-13: 9781612184371
ISBN-10: 1612184375
Library of Congress Control Number: 2012941209

Drifting on the tide, along this endless road we glide

Surges battering bow and keel

But what is man?

A restless will-o’-the-wisp, a restless will-o’-the-wisp

Rocks scraping underfoot we walk

One born to pleasure and another born to pain

But within each heart the tick of a clock

Which when it stops, ’tis time for death to reign

Drifting on the tide, along this endless road we glide

No man, not one, its length may know

Sea and sky and land—all, all shall fade away

How shall the soul be saved from woe?

But in dreams how dear it is to say

That spring will come again and a new dawn yet will break

That from atop the fells, come winds of days soon to wake—

Or have they lied?

Drifting on the tide.

—Eino Leino, music by Toivo Kuula

CONTENTS

PRELUDE

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

FINALE

CAST OF CHARACTERS

NOTE FROM THE TRANSLATOR

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR

PRELUDE

Riku woke up to a vicious call of nature. His mouth tasted like it usually did after whiskey, beer, garlic, and too many cigarettes, and he hoped he’d be able to find some blood orange Jaffa soda in the house. That was his drink of choice whenever he was hungover—assuming, that is, that he wasn’t in such bad shape that he had to resort to beer.

The morning was beautiful. Tuulia and Mira sat on the porch, consuming a leisurely breakfast. Riku was amused by their friendly sounding chatter about different varieties of cheese—the fact was the two women couldn’t stand each other. However, since one of them was the best soprano and the other the best alto in EFSAS—the Eastern Finland Student Association of Singers—they had to make the best of it. Heavyset and somber looking with dark hair, Mira was the classic archetype of an alto. She would have been perfect as the gypsy woman in Verdi’s
Il Trovatore
—what was her name...?

When the bright sunlight hit his eyes, Riku’s head exploded. He popped two extra-strength Burana tablets for good measure, even though he was basically immune to ibuprofen at this point and even the whole bottle might not have helped.

There was no soda of any kind to be found, so he settled for fresh juice. The world felt oppressively vibrant: the sea was shining, seagulls were screeching down at the dock, and there was already a hint of the warmth the afternoon would bring. Singing in this heat wouldn’t be easy.

“Feeling a little fuzzy, Riku?” Tuulia asked. She looked as pale as Riku. None of them had slept much. But it wasn’t like it really mattered since it was Sunday and they didn’t have to be back at work until the following day.

“Are the others still asleep?” Riku asked, looking around.

“Pia was going for a swim, and I haven’t seen the others. Hopefully they’ll show some signs of life soon so we can get something done.” Mira’s tone was bitter—she didn’t care for slackers. In her opinion, EFSAS had sent their best double quartet lineup to Tommi’s parents’ villa to practice for their upcoming concert, not to carouse into the wee hours. As far as she was concerned, it was high time they get up, chug some coffee, and start warming up their voices.

Riku stood up. A swim might not be a bad idea, especially since the seawater was a perfect seventy degrees. So he set off for the boat dock. Pia was on the shore over by the sauna, modestly covered with a bikini. Riku lacked the energy to drag himself that far. He couldn’t be bothered with swim trunks, so he just pulled off his clothes and plunged into the water naked.

Tommi was in the water too, lounging against some rocks in the shallow area by the dock. He must have had a devil of a headache, judging from the bloody mess on the back of his head. He didn’t look very lively otherwise either. Suddenly, Riku’s stomach lurched. He fell to his knees and vomited into the reeds.

It was a full two minutes before he could stand up. When he did, he staggered back up to the veranda, where several more people had gathered. Riku’s clear first tenor, the envy of so many, was unable to form a single word.

“Well, aren’t we the cock of the walk in our birthday suit?” Tuulia said.

“Tommi...down at the dock. Oh, fuck...he’s dead! Drowned!” Riku screamed.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Antti charged down to the shore, with Mira trailing after him. Moments later she raced back up to the house and ran inside to the telephone. The emergency numbers were written neatly beside it. Everyone on the porch listened as Mira’s low, breathless alto summoned first the police and then, only afterward, an ambulance.

1

Drifting on the tide, along this endless road we glide

When the telephone rang, I was in the shower rinsing the salt off my skin. I heard my own voice on the answering machine and then a colleague’s urgent message to call him back. I had been able to enjoy a surprisingly long part of my Sunday off without being called into work, but even on the beach I had been unable to relax. Though I generally hated lying around and loathed the scene at the beach, I had, for some reason, felt compelled to spend my first warm summer day off worshipping the sun. I had gone to the gym regularly over the winter, so my body was in more tolerable swimsuit shape than it had been in years—though at the rate I’d been drinking beer, I was never going to get rid of my love handles. I turned off the answering machine and dialed the number for the station. The switchboard connected me to Rane.

“Hey, Kallio! I’m going to be at your door in fifteen. Everything is already packed. There’s a body over in Vuosaari. The boys from Patrol called it in half an hour ago. You don’t need anything from your office, do you? See you soon!”

Here we go again, I thought, as I looked in the closet for something decent to put on. My uniform skirt was down at the station in Pasila, so my best jeans would have to do. My hair was
wet, but the blow dryer would just whip it into a tangled red mess. I dabbed some makeup on my flushed face and frowned at my reflection in the mirror. The face that stared back was quite simply not that of a respectable female police detective: my greenish-yellow eyes looked like they belonged to a cat, and my coarse hemp-rope curls had been intensified with a bottle of red dye (“Everyone will notice, but no one will know...”). The feature most likely to provoke contempt was my snub nose, which was mottled with freckles by the sun. Someone had once called my lips sensual, referring, I think, to my full lower lip.

A hastily thrown-together girl of a woman, I fleetingly wondered whether I was really up to the task of defending law and order in the boondocks of East Helsinki.

Rane’s sirens were audible in the distance. Like half of the police officers in Finland, he loved running them at every opportunity. The dead don’t exactly run away, but the public didn’t need to know that.

“Forensics went on ahead,” Rane said matter-of-factly as I clambered into the passenger seat of the Saab. “So, body in Vuosaari, drowned, but it sounds like there’s something off about it. Dude about thirty; I think his name was Peltonen. There were about ten people spending the weekend out there at a summerhouse, a choir of some kind, and this morning they found this Peltonen guy in the water.”

“Did someone push him in?”

“Don’t know. We haven’t gotten a whole lot of detail yet.”

“What’s this choir thing about?”

“Some kind of singers, I guess,” he said. Rane swerved so hard onto the East Highway that I lurched and hit my elbow painfully against the door of the patrol car. With a sigh of resignation, I buckled the seatbelt, an obnoxious contraption that
chafed at my neck because it was designed with taller male officers in mind.

“Where’s Kinnunen? And all the others? Weren’t you supposed to have the day off today?”

“The rest of the guys are still tied up with that stabbing from yesterday. And I’ve been trying to get hold of Kinnunen for the last half hour, but you know how Sundays are. He’s probably nursing a hangover on some pub deck.”

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