The Sword of Justice - Leif G W Persson


It was Monday, 3 June, but even though it was a Monday and he had been woken in the middle of the night, Detective Superintendent Evert Bäckström would always think of it as the best day of his life. His work mobile started to ring at exactly five o’clock in the morning, and because the person who was calling refused to give up he didn’t exactly have many options.

‘Yeees,’ Bäckström answered.

‘I’ve got a murder for you, Bäckström,’ the duty officer with Solna Police said.

‘At this time of day?’ Bäckström said. ‘So it’s either the king or the prime minister?’

‘Even better than that, actually.’ His colleague was barely able to hide his delight.

‘I’m listening.’

‘Thomas Eriksson,’ the duty officer replied.

‘The lawyer,’ Bäckström said, having difficulty concealing his surprise. It can’t be true, he thinks. It’s far too good to be true.

‘The very same. Considering all your past dealings, I wanted to be the first to pass on the good news. It was actually Niemi at Forensics who called and said I should wake you. So, sincere congratulations, Bäckström. Congratulations from all of us here at the station. You got the last laugh in the end.’

‘He’s quite sure it’s murder? And that it’s Eriksson?’

‘No question, Niemi’s one hundred per cent certain. Our poor victim looks pretty terrible, apparently, but it’s still him.’

‘I’ll try to find some way of dealing with my grief,’ Bäckström said.

This is the best day of my life, he thought as he ended the short conversation. He was also wide awake, his head clear as crystal, and on a day like today you had to make sure you made the most of every moment. Not miss a single second.

The first thing he did was put his dressing-gown on and go off to the toilet to ease the pressure. That was a routine he had picked up early in life and had been careful to maintain. Easing the pressure before he went to bed and as soon as he got up, regardless of whether or not it was necessary, and in marked contrast to what his prostate-tormented male colleagues seemed to devote most of their waking hours to.

A superb high-pressure jet, Bäckström thought contentedly as he stood there with the super-salami in the firm grip of his right hand and felt the water level sink in his well-proportioned nether regions. High time to restore a bit of balance, he reflected, concluding with a couple of sturdy tugs on the salami to squeeze out the last drops that had gathered there during the course of an entirely dreamless night.

Then he had gone straight to the kitchen to prepare a hearty breakfast. A proper stack of extra-thick slices of Danish bacon, four fried eggs, freshly squeezed orange juice and a large cup of strong coffee with warm milk. A murder investigation wasn’t the sort of thing you embarked upon on an empty stomach, and carrots and oatbran were almost certainly one contributing factor to why his malnourished and cretinous colleagues fucked up with such depressing regularity.

After that he had gone, happy and sated, into the bathroom and stood in the shower, where he carefully soaped himself in sections as the warm water coursed over his pleasantly rounded and harmoniously constructed frame. Then he dried himself thoroughly before shaving with the assistance of a proper, old-fashioned razor and generous quantities of shaving foam. Finally, he had brushed his teeth with his electric toothbrush and, just to be on the safe side, gargled with some refreshing mouthwash.

Eventually, with aftershave, deodorant and other pleasant smells carefully applied to all the strategic parts of his temple of a body, he had dressed with great care. A yellow linen suit, a blue linen shirt, black, handmade Italian shoes and a colourful silk handkerchief tucked into his breast pocket as a final fond greeting to his murder victim. On a day like this it was important not to be sloppy about details, which is why – in honour of the momentous occasion – he had swapped his usual Rolex for the one in white gold that he had been given as a Christmas present by a grateful acquaintance whom he had been able to help out of a minor inconvenience.

In front of the hall mirror he had conducted one final check: the gold note-clip, with a suitable amount of cash; the little crocodile-skin wallet containing all his cards (both of these in his left trouser pocket); his key-ring and mobile in the right pocket; his black notebook with the pen