Book Extracts
Trouble Book Extract



April 1942

The shadows were getting longer. He reckoned that by the time they made it to the train station, night would fall. Ahead of them, the road lay empty. The only thing he could see were the tail lights of a large Volvo truck that had passed them a few minutes ago in a cloud of foul-smelling fumes, slowly, as if looking for something. He wondered if he should ask his family to hurry up, but his wife looked tired after spending all day on her feet. Maybe she had caught Hella’s stomach bug too. He thought about his younger daughter, how pale and thin she had looked this morning as she waved them off. Such a contrast to Christina, with her glowing good health and heavy Valkyrie braids. Christina was walking in front of him, pushing Matti’s stroller. He tried to wrestle it from her – he was the man of the family, after all – but his daughter laughed him off.

“Back off, Colonel Mauzer,” she said, grinning. “You’re the one retiring, remember? It’s the reason we spent the day visiting this godforsaken place, so you can put your feet up and wait for the fish to bite while you and your pal Kyander talk about the good old days. Shame he couldn’t come with you, by the way. It would have been nice for him to see the cabin.”

The colonel smiled at his daughter. “Kyander was called into the office at the last minute. You can’t hold it against him – it happens more often than you think, in our line of work.” Besides, it didn’t matter; his mind was already made up. The log house was a gem: just the right size, with a new roof and a porch, and a sauna on the side. Secluded. Lake views. Ridiculously cheap. He had made an offer right there and then, and it had been accepted. Kyander would be happy. The thought made him smile, put a spring in his step. A mile or so left until they reached the station, and then he’d sit on the train and admire his grandson’s sleepy face and dream about the future.

“Oh, here it is again,” Christina said.


“That truck’s coming back.” She turned to face him, making a show of wrinkling her nose.

He looked. She was right: in the distance he could see the same truck, with its left headlight blinking, charging towards them. It was going fast now. “Move over to the side,” he called out to his family. “The road’s dry, but you can never be too careful. And it’s getting —”

He never finished his sentence. The truck swerved, hitting Matti’s stroller first and then, a split second later, Christina. The colonel didn’t move, wouldn’t have had time to even if he’d wanted to, didn’t cry out. He thought briefly of his wife, walking behind him. And of Hella, sick, home alone. Would she find… The truck was upon him now, and in the evening light he locked eyes with the driver. So that was who —

He didn’t have the time to finish that thought either. The beast tore right through him, ripping his skin, crushing his bones and what his superiors in Helsinki called “the finest spy mind in all of Europe”.

The last thing he heard, as the light dimmed in his eyes, was his wife screaming. And the truck engine revving, speeding away.


Evil Things


She had to squint hard to see where the village was. Just a tiny speck of grey on the map, buried deep in the crevices of that ancient, frozen land. Surrounded by marshes and hills bristling with low, crooked shrubs typical of the permafrost.  Inhabited mostly by Skolt Sami, indigenous people who lived off the land, hunting and fishing. Not exactly a tourist destination.
She must have been out of her mind to have insisted on going there. And to do what? To solve a crime that her boss didn’t even believe was one.
“It sounds just like an accident to me,” Chief Inspector Eklund said, his full lips pursed. He was standing next to her by the map that hung on the wall of his newly refurbished, obsessively clean office that reeked inexplicably of fish oil.
“It could be a crime,” said Hella. She was careful not to sound too sure, too forceful. Eklund didn’t like her bossy attitude, as he called it, and for better or worse she was stuck with Eklund.
“An old man, practically a recluse, goes missing from his home. Not a crime. He probably got lost in the forest, or drowned in a marsh. Or went over the Soviet border like they all do, got drunk on local Kremlevskaya and forgot who he even was. There’s nothing to it.”
“He was born in that forest. He couldn’t possibly have got lost. And I don’t believe he went binge-drinking with the Soviets either. He left a young child behind. His grandson.”

“Oh, that’s why!” Eklund lifted an accusatory finger. “He left a child behind! Of course, that immediately makes you think he was the victim of a crime. Mind you, I understand why you’d react like this, I really do, but that doesn’t make
his disappearance a crime. Accidents happen. All the time. And that old man probably wasn’t the doting grandpa you imagine.”
Lennart Eklund went back to his desk and dropped into his brand-new swivel chair, making it squeak under his weight. For him, this conversation was over. Not for Hella. She went on, her voice loud and clear, all her prudent resolutions forgotten.

“So this priest’s wife, Mrs Waltari, writes to the police saying that an old man has gone missing, leaving a child behind, that it’s been six days since he was last seen, that she’s worried, and you’re telling me we do nothing? We just file her letter in one of our neat archive boxes and forget about it?”
Eklund looked up at her, puzzled. “Police work isn’t about passion. It isn’t about people being worried. It’s about doing what is good – what is useful – efficient. It’s up to us to decide what’s best for this community. Which cases warrant our involvement, and which do not.”
“Well, I guess we should just throw it away, then,” said Hella. “The letter, I mean. Destroy the evidence. Because if there really has been a crime, and we’ve been told about it but haven’t solved it, it will ruin our hundred per cent record.”

Her boss shifted uncomfortably in his chair, and she knew she had made her point. For Chief Inspector Eklund, police work held little interest, but he had a passion for neatness and efficiency. Under his direction, the Ivalo police district currently boasted the best crime resolution rate in the country, and even if the crimes they solved consisted only of petty thefts at the timber factory and the odd case of a poisoned dog, it didn’t matter. Only the numbers mattered to him.

And now Eklund was hesitating, his plump hands playing with a paper clip, his pale blue eyes fixed on something just above her left shoulder.

“We can write back to Mrs Waltari, explaining that her concern has been noted but that at this time of the year the risk of the police being caught up in a snowfall is just too great. We can tell her we’ll return to our investigation, if there is an investigation, in May next year, when the snow starts to melt and … at least, there could be something tangible …”
His voice trailed off, but she understood exactly what he was getting at.
“And if there is a body, we just find it when the spring comes?” she snapped. “Really? That is, unless that body has been eaten by wolves or bears, in which case we can still carry on pretending there was no crime?” Unable to stop,
she added, rather viciously: “Is that your golden standard of police work? Just ignoring cases when the weather conditions are too harsh?”
She had gone too far. Even a placid man like Lennart Eklund couldn’t take it any longer. She half expected him to throw her out of his office, or lecture her on the virtues of subordination, but what he said hit her far harder.

“Why are you pushing this, my dear? You’re a woman. You can’t go out there alone, can you? And both Inspector Ranta and I are very busy right now. Take my advice, forget about it. I’m not talking to you as your superior, but as an older, wiser friend. There’s that ball next week everyone is talking about. Put on a dress if you have one, and go. Or you can borrow a shawl and some make-up from Esmeralda. Her dresses would probably be a bit large in the chest for you, but I’m sure we could find you something …” He paused, thinking, his gaze summing up her body. “Kukoyakka from the timber factory seems to quite like you. Maybe he just has a thing for women who are” – Eklund hesitated, in search of a word that would describe her best, then brightened as he found it – “angular.”


The Horseman's Song

The tall canes gave a rustle like rain, but it hadn’t rained in a month, and down the bank the brook ran low. From where he stood, Martin Bora knew death at once. Lately the inertia of death had grown familiar to him, and he recognized it in what he saw at the curve of the mule track, where trees clustered and a bundle of leafy canes swished like rain. He couldn’t make out the shape from the bank
of the brook, where he’d bathed and was now putting his uniform back on. In a time of civil war, these days did not call for inquisitiveness. Yet Bora was curious about life and the point when life ceases. Staring at the slumped dark mass, he finally managed to struggle into his wet clothes, quickly lacing and buttoning his uniform. The stiff riding boots and gun belt were next. Overhead, the air was scented and moist. The summer sky would soon turn white like paper, but at this hour, it had the tender tinge of bruised flesh. Bora started up the incline, steadying his boots on the shifting pebbles, and reached the mule track to take a better look. He could see now that it was a human body. As he took out his gun, his arm and torso adjusted to the heft of steel, hardening immediately, almost
aggressively. Shoulders hunched, he crossed the track, straining for sounds around him, but a lull had fallen over trees, brook and leafy canes. The sierra, its crude face of granite rising above, was silence itself.

The body lay twisted on the edge of the track, face down. Bora drew near, lowering his gun. I shouldn’t be turning my back to the trees, but look, look … A small hole gaped black and round at the base of the man’s head; the dark fleece of the neck appeared sticky, matted. I should not feel safe. Anyone could shoot me right now. Yet the tension slackened in him. Bora’s armed hand sank to his side. Not much blood on the ground, although the man’s white shirt was deeply stained – a dark triangle between his shoulders. No, no. No danger. Bora looked
down. There’s no danger. He stood at the rim of the bloody puddle, a crisp lacy edge that gravelly dirt had absorbed and sunlight would dry soon. It marked a boundary at his feet, curving sharply where a twig had stopped it from flowing.
No danger. Bora glanced up. A young ash tree stood smooth and tall, alone on the curve. How telling that a twig should be born from it and grow and fall to the ground to stop a man’s lifeblood; that a man should live unaware that a bit of ash wood awaits him on a lonely road. Bora holstered the gun, wondering what kind of wood, which road, what sky, what morning waited for his dead body and would grow into the fullness of day without him.

He could smell blood as he crouched down, virtually tasting it when he turned the body to check if the bullet had destroyed the face. But it was intact. Handsome in a southern or gypsy way, with a broad forehead and eyebrows joined at the bridge of the nose, the man’s face appeared serene, the eyelids lowered and the mouth slightly open. The lashes were like a woman’s, dark and long. The body felt cold to the touch, sweaty with dew. Like mashed lilies, Bora thought, an
unfamiliar image to him. This dead man has the crushed pallor of white flowers that have been torn up and stepped on.


A Man of Genius by Janet Todd

First Chapters


‘Annabella looked at the corpse. Hands and head separate.
Blood had leaked from wrists and neck. Fluid covered part of
the distorted features. The open eyes were stained so that they
glared through their own darkness. A smell of rotting meat.
‘By itself the face was unrecognisable, yet she knew it was
her father’s. What was a father? A man begot a body but not
a mind. She prodded the head with her foot. The blood must
have congealed for her boot remained clean.
‘Had she killed him? It wasn’t clear. She rather thought she
had. She was sure she’d not cut him up. She hadn’t the
strength. She would order the bits thrown in the Arno to mix
with filth from the city. She turned away.
‘How many people do you have to murder before it
becomes habitual? Before you cannot remember which corpse
is which and who is its dispatcher?
‘She wiped old blood off her hands with her handkerchief.
Her maid would wash it clean.’
He’d come silently into the room and read from behind her. He
Ann felt the smile. ‘I will cross out the fluid and rotting meat,’ she
said without looking up.

The Pursuit


She met Robert James in St Paul’s Churchyard. The bookseller
J. F. Hughes held a dinner once a week for his distinguished
writers and a few hacks. She was invited to leaven the party with what
a prized pornographer called ‘femality’. Mary Davies, who wrote
children’s primers for numbers and letters, was absent. Hers was a
more respectable trade than Ann’s gothic horrors but Mr Hughes
judged Ann less prissily genteel in men’s company.
An Italian was there. He said little except when talk veered
towards argument. Then he remarked there was a sundial near Venice
that claimed to count serene hours alone. How good, he added, to
take notice of time only as it gives pleasure.
‘That sundial had not the English art of self-tormenting,’ said
Richard Perry, an intense, gentle man introduced by Mr Hughes as a
reviewer and former bookseller.
‘It’s surely not so easy to efface cares by refusing to name them,’
said Ann.
Nobody pursued the point. Signor Luigi Orlando felt no need to
facilitate further.
Later, much later, she wondered why Robert James had been
invited. He’d published nothing of consequence beyond that amazing
fragment of Attila. Did Mr Hughes believe in his promise as fer vently
as his friends did? As he did?
At first he’d been silent and she hadn’t much remarked him.
During the introduction she’d failed to note his name, being too
engrossed in her own. Then, as afternoon turned to evening, and
wine and conversation flowed, he’d started to dominate the talk, to
catch and keep attention. He spoke animatedly. She knew who he was

Lumen by Ben Pastor

Cracow, Poland. Friday, 13 October 1939 

The Polish words stencilled on the plaque read, “Take Good Heed”, and the Hebrew script below them presumably repeated the sentence. Coloured pictures illustrating the alphabet were pasted on the wall around the plaque. For the letter L, the picture showed a little girl pushing a doll carriage.  

Suddenly the odour of mangled flesh was sharp, crude. It came to his nostrils unexpectedly, so that Bora turned away from the wall and walked towards the middle of the room, where an army medic stood in gloves and surgical mask. Behind his figure, flooding the classroom with light, three wide open windows let in the afternoon sun and a lukewarm afternoon wind. 

Six desks had been joined by their narrow ends, two by two, and the uniform-clad bodies lay on top of them, over tarpaulin sheets. Blood had dripped down the ends of the desks, from the little spaces between sheets. The larger puddles were coagulating, and reflected the light of the windows on their surface. Bora stared at the reflection before stepping closer, nodding to the medic. 

After looking over each body, he pronounced a name in a low voice, a collected and controlled and forcibly boxed-in voice. The medic was holding a pad, and wrote down the names on it. 

When he lifted his eyes from the third body to the wall ahead, Bora met with the colourful print of the little girl pushing a doll carriage. It read, Lale. Dorotka ma lale 


“We thought you’d be best suited to identify them, Captain, since you were in the car right behind them.” 

Bora turned to the medic. He didn’t say anything. For a moment he looked up and down the medic’s grimy apron as if wondering what either one of them was doing here. What, indeed, any of them – dead and alive – were doing in a Jewish day school on Jakova Street in Cracow. 

He felt sweat run under his arms, down the middle of his back.  

Bora said, “Yes, I was.” 

Major Retz waited below in the army car. He was smoking a cigar, and the air in the car was hazy with it, because he had all the windows rolled up. When Bora opened the door to enter, a bluish cloud floated against him with an acrid odour of tobacco. He took his place in the driver’s seat. 

Retz said, “So, of course they were Lieutenants Klaus, Williams and poor Hans Smitt. Had they been wearing their identification disks, you wouldn’t have had to go up and look at them. How bad are they?” 

Bora started the engine, avoiding Retz’s eyes in the rearview mirror. “They’re in shreds from the midriff down.” He lowered his window, and with the motion of the car the smoke began to blow away. 

They drove down the deserted street into a square, Bora following the direction signs hastily put up in the last few days over the Polish names of streets and bridges. Retz made some trivial observations, and Bora answered in monosyllables. 

The afternoon light shone lavish and clear, it drew long shadows from the trees flanking the street and the tall city blocks. Overhead, the sky was thinly raked by aircraft flying east, delicate trails like pentagrams without notes. 

“That’s no way to go, is it – blasted on a mine.” 

Bora kept silent, so Retz cracked the window to toss the butt of his cigar out, and changed the subject. “How do you like Intelligence?” 

This time Bora looked up into the mirror. Retz wasn’t looking at him. His arrogant, crude face was averted, and there came the rustle of a large sheet of paper being unfolded. 

“I think I’ll like it.” 

Retz’s eyes met his. “Yes. They tell me you’re the student kind.” Bora thought Retz probably meant “studious”, but “student” was what he said. He felt a curious little surge of insecurity at that assessment of him. More crumpling of paper followed, and a badly refolded street map was tossed on the front seat from behind.  

“Our lodgings are supposed to be close to the Wawel Hill in the Old City. I’d hoped we’d lodge closer to headquarters, Bora, but that’s what we get for staying longer than most on the field of battle. I hope there’s indoor plumbing, and all that. Drive to the office, I want to check where exactly they’re going to house us.” 


14 October 

The German Army Headquarters on Rakowicka Street overlooked a formal garden, and, past the gate, across the sidewalk lined by trolley tracks, sat a grey Dominican church. Pigeons flew to its roof, alone and in pairs, fluttering.  

Bora listened to what Colonel Hofer was explaining to him. All the while, he thought that in comparison with Richard Retz, his commander was an introverted and sullen man. Hofer’s hands sweated, so that he wore talcum powder in his gloves to absorb the moisture. His palms retained a dusty appearance, like fish floured in anticipation of frying. Of an unclear age (Bora was young enough to misjudge the age of anyone older than himself but not yet white-haired), the colonel had a small nose; a womanly nose, almost, with wide nostrils, a sensitive mouth and narrow teeth. He wore spectacles only when he had to read something, but his squint gave the impression that he needed them even for simpler tasks, such as looking at people while talking to them.  

After an intense morning of briefing Bora on his duties, Hofer took him aside by the window, and for some time didn’t say anything at all. Fixedly he stared beyond the flowerbeds into the street, oblivious to Bora’s nearness. At long last, he focused his circled, watery eyes on the younger man.  

His eyes seemed weary, Bora thought, as in one who doesn’t sleep or sleeps poorly – something that could be said of all of them in the past furious weeks. Except that the young officers didn’t look, or probably didn’t even feel tired. 

With some envy, Hofer was drawing a similar parallel. Bora stood by him with a fresh, prim countenance, disciplined into not showing his eagerness but yet very eager, as his record showed. Hofer could shake his head at the enthusiasm, at the eagerness, but it was a time to encourage, not discourage those excesses. 

He said, “Captain, how familiar are you with the phenomenon of the stigmata?” 

Bora showed no overt surprise at the question. “Not very, sir.” He tried not to stare back. “They’re wounds like those received by Christ on the cross. Saint Francis of Assisi had them, and some other mystics.” 

Hofer returned his gaze to the street. “That’s true enough. And do you know how Francis and the others received them?” He didn’t give Bora time to answer. “It happened during ecstasy. Ecstasy did it.” He nodded to himself, with his fingernail scraping a little spot of dry paint from the glass. “Ecstasy did it.” 

Hofer walked away from the window and into his office. Bora stayed behind long enough to glance at the roofs of the Old City churches, rising to the left like distant ships’ forecastles behind uninspired new blocks. Directly ahead, pigeons still flew to and from the Dominican church, seeking the sunny side of the roof. Spain, only six months before, had been an exultation of crude and dazzling light.  

What did the stigmata have to do with anything? 

He thought no more of it until after the lunch hour, when the colonel again stopped by his desk. Bora had been familiarizing himself with the topography of southeastern Poland, and now stood up with a red pencil in his hand. 

Hofer took the pencil from him, and laid it on the desk.  

“Enough map reading for the day, Bora. Tomorrow you’ll go out on patrol. Your interpreter is Johannes Herwig, an ethnic German, and he’ll tell you the rest in the field. A good man, Hannes – we go back a few years. Come, now. I want you to take a ride downtown with me.” 

“I’ll fetch the Colonel’s car.” 

“No. Let’s use yours. I want you to drive.” 

At Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, a musty, waxy odour hovered in the convent’s waiting room. Light came in through a set of three windows lined in a row, high, small, squarish, with deep slanting sills from which one couldn’t look out, even on tiptoe. There were three doors and all of them were closed. The silence was so complete, Bora could feel absence of sounds like a void against his ears.  

Startlingly real against a blank side wall, a life-size crucified Christ hung in agony, his torso contorted and bleeding, eyes turned back to half-hide glass pupils under his lids. It reminded Bora of the bodies in the Jewish schoolhouse, and he nearly expected to see blood on the floor at the foot of the cross. But the tiles were spotlessly clean, like everything else. No marks on the walls, no fingerprints, no streaks on the floor. And that waxy, musty smell.  

Waiting for Hofer, who had disappeared into one of the rooms down the hallway, Bora paced the floor. The quiet orderliness of the room forced a comparison with the wreckage and noise of weeks past – villages torn open, fields rolling by, speeding by, convulsed by drifting smoke and the fire of big guns. Bora admitted now that he’d pushed through havoc with the mindlessness of a sexual rush, awed and drunk with it. All the more he marvelled at the sterile peace of this interior. 

He’d been waiting for over an hour (the light was changing in the small windows, turning pinkish and less strong) when one of the doors opened and a priest walked out of it. Their eyes met, and the two men exchanged a noncommittal nod of acknowledgement. The priest wore clergyman’s trousers, an unusual sight in this conservative country. He went past Bora, down a hallway and into another door.  

Later a nun came gliding by, was gone. The light in the little windows grew lilac as the shadow of the late afternoon filled the street. Bora measured the floor in slow steps, trying to tend his thoughts and boredom. At last the priest entered the waiting room again. 

He said, in English, “Colonel Hofer tells me you speak my language.” 

Bora turned rigidly. “Yes.” And, recognizing the American accent, he relaxed his shoulders a little.  

“He sent me to keep you company while he concludes his meeting with Mother Kazimierza.” 

“Thank you, I’m all right.” 

“Well, then – you can keep me company.” With an amiable smile, the priest took a seat on a lion-footed bench, but Bora didn’t imitate him. He remained standing, hands clasped behind his back. 

The priest kept smiling. He was a man in his fifties, or so Bora assessed, big-shouldered, big-footed, with wide freckled hands and extremely lively, clear eyes. His neck, Bora saw out of the corner of his eye, emerged from the Roman collar as a powerful bundle of muscles, like the neck of a wrestler. The combination of his alert glance and strong frame recalled the pictures of warring peasant saints, cross in one hand and sword in the other. 

But the priest was telling him, in the most unaggressive tone, “I’m from Chicago, Illinois. In America.” 

Bora looked over. “I know where Chicago is.” 

“Ah, but do you know where Bucktown is? Milwaukee  


“Of course not.” 

“‘Of course’? Why ‘of course’?” The priest’s face stayed merry. “Consider that for most of my parishioners the important landmarks are precisely Bucktown and Trinity church, Six Corner, the memory of Father Leopold Moczygemba —” 

“Are you teasing me?” Bora asked the question, but was beginning to be amused. 

“No, no. Well, what I meant is – you and I would be at war if I were British, but I’m of non-belligerent nationality.” 

It was true enough. Bora found himself relaxing more and more, because he was in fact tired of waiting and not unhappy to make conversation.  

“Who is Mother Kazimierza?” he asked. 

The priest’s smile broadened. “I take it you’re not  


“I am Catholic, but I still don’t know who she is.” 

Matka Kazimierza – well, Matka Kazimierza is an institution in herself. Throughout Poland they refer to her as the ‘Holy Abbess’. She has been known to foretell events in visions, and has apparent mystic and healing powers. Why, several of your commanders have already visited her.” 

It came to Bora’s mind that Hofer left the office early every afternoon at the same time. Had he been coming to see the nun, and was he embarrassed to be driven to the convent by his chauffeur? Bora took a long look at the priest, who sat and continued to smile a cat-like smile at him. Friendly faces were not an everyday occurrence in Cracow. He thought he ought to introduce himself.  

“I’m Captain Martin Bora, from Leipzig.”  

“And I’m Father John Malecki. I was put in charge by His Holiness of a study regarding the phenomenon of Mother  


“What phenomenon?” 

“Why, the wounds on her hands and feet.” 

So. That’s what the stigmata had to do with Hofer’s talk.  

Bora was thoroughly amazed, but all he said was, “I see.”  

Father Malecki was adding, “I’ve been in Cracow these past six months. In case you were wondering, that’s how I happened to find myself here when you came.”  

It was as unadorned a way as Bora had heard anyone describe the invasion of Poland. 

“Yes, Father,” he spoke back with faint amusement. “We did come.”  

Later, it was impossible for Bora not to think that the colonel had been weeping. Hofer’s eyes were red when they came out into the street, and although he wore his visored cap, the congestion of his face was still noticeable. He laconically indicated that he wanted to return to headquarters. It was late in the evening, but he walked straight into his office and locked himself in. 

Bora gathered his papers for the trip on the following day, and then left the building.

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