Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Fire Engine That Disappeared by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (Pantheon Books 1969)

Doris Mĺrtensson arrived back home on the evening of Saturday the twentieth of April.

It was now eight o'clock on Monday morning and she was standing in front of a large mirror in her bedroom, admiring her suntan and thinking how envious her friends at work would be. She had an ugly love-bite on her right thigh and two on her left breast. As she fastened her bra, she thought that perhaps it would be necessary to keep things on for the coming week to avoid awkward questions and involved explanations.

The doorbell rang. She pulled her dress over her head, thrust her feet into her slippers and went to open the door. The doorway was filled by a gigantic blond man in a tweed suit and a short open sports coat

He stared at her with his china-blue eyes and said:

'What was Greece like?'


'Don't you know that the military junta there allows tens of thousands of people to rot away in political prisons and that people are tortured to death every day? That they hang women from the ceiling on iron hooks and burn off their nipples with electric steel cutters?'

'You don't think about things like that when the sun's out and everyone's dancing and happy' 'Happy?'

She looked appraisingly at him and thought that her suntan must look fine against her white dress. This was a real man, she could see that at once. Big and strong and blunt Perhaps a little brutal too; nice.

'Who are you?' she said, with interest.

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