MURDER AT THE LIBRARY (in the style of Henning Mankell) Chapter 1 The heavy rain had dwindled to a drizzle by the time she arrived at the library door. She hated the rain in this country. It was so different from that in her native Sweden. It was somehow more intense, darker. And now, as the footpaths gleamed with wet, it was as if the ground underneath was turning into a mirror, showing her who she really was. She looked over her shoulder to survey the street. Four o’clock in the morning. This town had its bustling times, but now it was like a graveyard. She had become accustomed to graveyards during her traumatic years in Africa. Accustomed enough to carry out the task she had now taken upon herself. Her hand was steady as she took out the keys and opened the two locks. Her head was still aching after her dream. She had been reading the letters. Love letters the book-seller had called them, but they were something else. Letters of manipulation, of control, from a different life in a profoundly different country. And then she had woken and realised that she had left them in the office at the library. What a stupid thing to do. Not for the first time she had berated herself for her shortcomings. Someone in her position couldn’t afford to make mistakes. The exhibition had been a mistake. But how was she to know that the inscrutable book-seller was a person to fear? How was she to know that her past would follow her here, to this little country where she lived an obscure life as a librarian in a country town? But it had. And now she must turn to that past and hunt it down. The hunt would take her back to Sweden. At least the weather would be more to her taste. She disabled the alarm and got the letters from her desk. Tomorrow it would no longer be her desk. She would have gone. And no-body would know where. Her identity had been expertly disguised, with the help of some ingenious friends. She had invented a complete false history. With her basic qualifications and the self- possession she had carefully maintained, promotion had been easy. Everything had worked out so smoothly over the past five years. Too smoothly. She should have known that her destiny was different. She accepted it now. She took a minute to look coldly at the small, bald man huddled on the floor against the filing cabinet, his face bathing in a pool of red. He had underestimated her. Like the others. Maighread Medbh, Howth Library, Co. Dublin.
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