Today is my stop on the blog tour for Unrest by Jesper Stein and I’ll be sharing an extract with you all a little further down!
About the author:
Jesper Stein was born in Aarhus, Denmark. He began his writing career as
a journalist and covered the Balkan war, and catastrophes in Africa. He
then worked as a culture journalist for 10 years, interviewing lauded fiction
writers, such as John le Carré, Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbø, Henning Mankell, Peter
Høeg, Peter James, PD James, Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood and Haruki
He made his literary debut in 2012 with Unrest – the first in the Axel Steen
series. He has received massive attention for his sharp eye for detail, rich
and innovative plotting and confident prose. Praised by critics as a writer
who will keep readers on the edge of their seat, Stein has emerged as one
of the most talented authors of crime fiction in Scandinavia.
About the book:
2007. On the streets of Nørrebro, the worst riots Denmark has experienced for many years see violent
clashes between the police and far-left autonomists protesting the closure of the Youth House.
Meanwhile, in a local cemetery, an unidentified man is found bound and murdered, his body propped
up against a gravestone.
Detective Superintendent Axel Steen is called to the scene, where all signs suggest the dead man is the
victim of police brutality during the riots. But as the investigation progresses, Axel soon discovers that
many people, both inside and out of the force, have an unusual interest in the case – and in preventing
its resolution.Axel will stop at nothing until he’s uncovered the truth – no matter what. But as he tussles
with his ex-wife, his boss, a far-left journalist with a grudge, the security forces and a well-known drug
lord, the consequences turn out to be greater than expected… especially for Axel himself.
Click HERE to get your copy!
While they were speaking, Axel looked over at the dead man. He was slight and appeared to be dark-haired, with a narrow face and wide open, empty brown eyes. Axel took a few steps closer. The custom was to wait for the forensics team, let them do their work and afterwards hold a preliminary post-mortem with a forensic pathologist, but Axel always tried to read the crime scene right away. The first unconscious impression could be invaluable later.
There were traces of blood on the body’s lips; not red, closer to black, the colour blood goes when oxygen has been working on it for a short time. The tongue was sticking out between them, thick and purple, as often seen in victims of strangling.
The earth around the body was heavy and black, with no grass. There were bottle tops, broken glass, a chipped cobblestone, wet branches and a pizza box between the white snowdrops. No particular signs of a fight, but on the wall about three feet above his head there were traces of a dried liquid, most likely blood. Maybe he had been killed right here?
Axel thought it through: was it one of the autonomists who, during the street fighting, had got into a scuffle with some officers, who had then overreacted? At the police academy in recent years, much hadbeen done to ensure the mental health of the corps, but it didn’t change the fact that many policemen hated the demonstrators in Nørrebro and their occasionally life-threatening actions. There weren’t many who, like Axel, could remember as far back as May 18, 1993, when the police had found themselves forced to shoot at a group of demonstrators who were on the verge of killing them withcobblestones – but there were enough confrontations nowadays for the hatred to are up again.
He had to swiftly get an overview of which police officers had been on guard duty in the cemetery. And if it turned out that they had nothing to do with the murder, who could have killed him and, moreover, dumped him in a place that was swarming with cops, while the rest of the city had been vacuumed clean of police?
Axel walked up to the wall and looked behind the dead man’s back. His hands were bound with something that looked like strips – the modern plastic handcuffs that the police used. They had been pulled really tight and seemed to have cut into the skin on his wrist. He was wearing a pair of black military boots, black canvas trousers, a brown sweater and a black windcheater. He didn’t look like a typical autonomist. Axel went over to him and bent down. The smell of death was mixed with the stench of urine. It could have been people who had pissed up against the wall, but it was more likely the victim who had wet himself during the treatment he had been subjected to. Axel carefully put his hand into the inside pocket of the jacket and shed around for a wallet or something else that could reveal who he was.
He called the divisional commander over.
“I’ll need a list of the names and numbers of the men on duty in here last night, where they’ve been, when, and records of anyone else who’s been in the area – personnel, people under arrest, press – withnames and civil registration numbers. And then all of you will have to come into HQ to report what you’ve seen – or not seen.”
“Isn’t that a bit over the top? We’ve been on the go since eight o’clock yesterday evening.”
“Nothing is over the top when it comes to murder.” Axel looked down the path. “Do you have everything under control? Are you sure you haven’t seen anyone here yesterday evening or tonight?”
He got an ice-cold, indignant look from his colleague.
“We’ve taken six people in total – four of them climbed over the wall during the street fighting outside and they were just thrown out again. Two were arrested. We hunted them down with dogs. Theywere stockpiling Molotov cocktails in here.”
“No one else?”
“We haven’t seen anyone. We’ve kept it completely closed.”
Axel shook his head and nodded at a figure trudging towards them. “And what about him over there, you bloody amateur? Is he one of ours in civvies, maybe?”
Catch up with the tour: