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17

Of the four people eventually allocated to Inspector M"unster, it turned out that one lived in central Maardam, one in Linzhuisen, barely thirty kilometers away and one down in Groenstadt, a journey of some two hundred kilometers. On Saturday afternoon, M"unster conducted a short telephone interview with the last-a certain Werner Samijn, who worked as an electrical engineer and didn't have much to say about either Malik or Maasleitner. He had lived in the same barrack room as Malik and remembered him most as a rather pleasant and somewhat reserved young man. He thought Maasleitner was a more cocksure type (if the inspector and the man's widow would excuse the expression), but they had never mixed or gotten to know each other.

Number one on the list, Erich Molder, failed to answer the several phone calls M"unster made to his house in Guyderstraat; but number two, Joen Fassleucht, was available; M"unster offered to drive to his home late on Sunday afternoon.

M"unster's son, Bart, aged six and a half, objected strongly to this arrangement, but after some discussion, it was decided that Bart could go along in the car, provided he promise to stay in the backseat reading a Monster comic while his father carried out his police duties.

It was the first time M"unster had agreed to anything of this nature, and as he sat in Fassleucht's living room nibbling at cookies, he became aware that it did not have a particularly positive influence on his powers of concentration.

But perhaps that didn't matter so much on this occasion-it was hardly an important interrogation, he tried to convince himself. Fassleucht had mixed with Malik quite a lot during his National Service: they were both part of a group of four or five friends who occasionally went out together. Went to the movies, played cards, or simply sat at the same table in the canteen and gaped at the goggle-box. After demobilization, all contact had ceased; and as for Maasleitner, all Fassleucht could do was confirm the opinion expressed by Samijn the previous day.

Overbearing and rather cocky.

M"unster had been apprehensive, of course, and when he returned to his car after about half an hour he saw immediately that Bart had disappeared.

A cold shudder ran down his spine as he stood on the pavement wondering what the hell he should do; and, of course, that was the intention. Bart's disheveled head suddenly appeared in the back window-he had been lying on the floor hidden under a blanket, and his broadly grinning face left no doubt about the fact that he considered it an unusually successful joke.

You really looked shit scared! he announced in glee.

You little bastard, said M"unster. Would you like a hamburger?

And a Coke, said Bart.

M"unster drove toward the center of town in search of a suitable establishment for the provision of such goods, and decided that his son would have to grow several years older before it was appropriate to take him along on a similar assignment.

There's an in-depth article about your case in the Allgemejne today said Winnifred Lynch. Have you read it?

No, said Reinhart. Why should I do that?

They try to make a profile of the perpetrator.

Reinhart snorted.

You can make a perpetrator profile only in the case of a serial killer. And even then it's a decidedly dodgy method. But it sounds good in the press, of course. They can write and make up stories about murderers who don't exist. A green flag for any fantasies you like. Much more fun than reality naturally.

Winnifred Lynch folded up the newspaper.

Isn't it a serial killer, then?

Reinhart looked hard at her over the edge of his book.

If we go and take a bath, I can tell you a bit more about it.

Good that you have such a big bathtub, commented Winnifred ten minutes later. If I do take you on, it'll be because of the bathtub. So don't imagine anything else. Okay?

The murderer?

Yes.

Well, I don't know, said Reinhart, sinking down further into the bubbles. Of course it's possible that there's going to be a series, but it's almost impossible to judge after only two. And then, what kind of a series is it? Continue this series of numbers: one, four then what? There are all kinds of possibilities.

And the former National Servicemen have nothing useful to say?

Reinhart shook his head.

I don't think so. Not the ones I spoke to, in any case. But the key might well be there somewhere, even so. It's so damned easy to hide something, if you want to. If there's something you don't want stirred up, then all you do is say nothing about it. It was thirty years ago, after all

He leaned his head against the edge of the bath and thought for a while.

It's going to be extremely difficult to solve this case, no matter what. If there are no more after these two, that is. There's a bit of difference in the work input, I can assure you.

What do you mean?

Reinhart cleared his throat.

Well, hypothetically Let's say I make up my mind to kill somebody, anybody at all. I get up at three o'clock on a Tuesday morning. I get dressed in dark clothes, hide my face, go out and find a suitable place, and wait. Then I shoot the first person to come past and go home.

Using a silencer.

Using a silencer. Or I stab him with a knife. What chance is there of my being found out?

Not a lot.

Next to none. But if I do it even so, how many working hours do you think it costs the police? Compared with the hour it took me.

Winnifred nodded. Stuck her right foot into Reinhart's armpit and started wiggling her toes.

That's nice, said Reinhart. When war breaks out, can't we just come here and lie like this?

By all means, said Winnifred. But what about a motive? That's what you're getting at, I take it?

Exactly, said Reinhart. It's because of this imbalance that we have to look for a motive. A single thought on the right lines can save thousands of working hours. So you can see why I'm such a trump card at the police station.

She laughed.

I can imagine it. But you haven't had that thought on the right lines in this case, is that it?

Not yet, said Reinhart.

He found the soap and started lathering her legs.

I think it's a wronged woman, said Winnifred after a while.

I know that's what you think.

He thought for half a minute.

Would you be able to fire those other two shots?

She thought about it.

No. Not now. But I don't think it's impossible. You can be driven to it. It's hardly inexplicable, let's face it. On the contrary, in fact.

A madwoman who goes around shooting the willies off all men? With good reason?

For specific reasons, said Winnifred. Specific causes. And not just any old willies.

Perhaps she's not mad, either? said Reinhart.

Depends on how you look at it, I suppose. She's been wronged, as I said. Affronted, perhaps No, let's change the subject, this is making me feel unwell.

Me too, said Reinhart. Shall I do the other leg as well?

Yes, do that, said Winnifred Lynch.



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