Stalker extract

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Take a peak at a chilling extract from Lars Kepler’s brand new thriller, Stalker

The camera glides slowly through the last of the dark garden and stops right outside the window, swaying slightly as if it were floating on water.

‘She’d see him if she just looked up,’ Margot whispers, feeling her heart beat faster in her chest.

The light from the room reaches beyond the leaves of a rosebush, casting a slight flare across the top of the lens.

Adam is sitting with his hand over his mouth.

The woman pulls her vest off, tosses it onto the chair, then stands for a moment in her washed-out underwear and stained bra, looking over at the mobile phone charging on the bedside table beside a glass of water. Her thighs are tense and pumped with blood after her run, and the top of the jogging pants has left a red line across her stomach.

There are no tattoos or visible scars on her body, just faint white stretch-marks from a pregnancy.

The  room  looks  like  millions  of  other  bedrooms.  There’s nothing worth even trying to trace.

The camera trembles, then pulls back.

The woman takes the glass of water from the bedside table and puts it to her mouth, then the film ends abruptly.

‘Bloody hell, bloody hell,’ Margot repeats irritably. ‘Nothing, not a sodding thing.’

‘Let’s watch it again,’ Adam says quickly.

‘We can watch it a thousand times,’ Margot says, rolling her chair further back. ‘Go on, what the hell, go ahead, but it’s not going to give us a fucking thing.’

‘I can see a lot of things, I can see—’

‘You can see a detached house, twentieth-century, some fruit trees, roses, triple-glazed windows, a forty-two-inch television, Ben  &  Jerry’s  ice  cream,’  she  says,  gesturing  towards  the computer.

It hasn’t struck her before, the way we’re so similar to each other. Seen through a window, a broad spectrum of Swedes conform to the same pattern, to the point of being interchangeable. From the outside we appear to live exactly the same way, we look the same, do the same things, own the same objects.

‘This  is  totally  fucked  up,’  Adam  says  angrily.  ‘Why  is  he posting these films? What the hell does he want?’

Margot glances out of the small window, where the black treetops of Kronoberg Park are silhouetted against the hazy glow of the city.

‘There’s no doubt that this is a serial killer,’ she says. ‘All we can do is put together a preliminary profile, so we can—’

‘How does that help her?’ Adam interrupts, running one hand through his hair. ‘He’s standing outside her window and you’re talking about offender profiling!’

‘It might help the next one.’

‘What the fuck?’ Adam says. ‘We’ve got to—’

‘Just shut up for a minute,’ Margot interrupts, and picks up her phone.

‘Shut up yourself,’ Adam says, raising his voice. ‘I’ve got every right to say what I think. Haven’t I? I think we should get the papers to publish this woman’s picture on their websites.’

‘Adam, listen . . . much as we’d like to be able to identify her,  we’ve  got  nothing  to  go  on,’  Margot  says.  ‘I’ll  talk  to Forensics, but I doubt they’re going to find anything more than they did last time.’

‘But if we circulate her picture to—’

‘I haven’t got time for your nonsense now,’ she snaps. ‘Think for a minute . . . Everything suggests he’s uploaded the clip directly from her garden, so of course there’s a theoretical chance of saving her.’

‘That’s exactly what I’m saying!’

‘But five minutes have already passed, and that’s a long time to be standing outside a window.’

Adam  leans  forward  and  stares  at  her.  His  tired  eyes  are bloodshot and his hair is on end.

‘Are we just going to give up, then?’

‘This is a matter of urgency, but we have to think clearly,’ she replies.

‘Good,’ he says, still sounding annoyed.

‘The perpetrator is brimming with confidence, he knows he’s way ahead of us,’ Margot explains quickly as she picks up the last slice of pizza. ‘But the better we get to know him . . .’

‘Get to know him? Fine, but that’s not really what I’m thinking right now,’ Adam says, wiping sweat from under his nose. ‘We couldn’t trace the previous film, we didn’t find anything at the scene, and we won’t be able to trace this film either.’

‘We’re unlikely to get any forensic evidence, but we can try to pin him down by analysing the films and the brutality of his MO,’ Margot replies, as she feels the baby move inside her.

‘What have we really seen so far, what has he shown us, and what’s he seeing?’

‘A woman who’s been for a run, and is now eating ice cream and watching television,’ Adam says tentatively.

‘What does that tell us about the murderer?’

‘That he likes women who eat ice cream . . . I don’t know,’ Adam sighs, and hides his face in his hands.

‘Come on, now.’

‘Sorry, but—’

‘I’m thinking about the fact that the murderer uploads a film showing the period leading up to the murder,’ Margot says. ‘He takes his time, enjoys the moment, and . . . he wants to show us the women alive, wants to preserve them alive on film. Maybe it’s the living he’s interested in.’

‘A voyeur,’ Adam says, feeling his arms prick with discomfort.

‘A stalker,’ she whispers.

‘Tell me how to filter the list of creeps who’ve been let out of  prison  or  psychiatric  care,’  Adam  says,  as  he  logs  into  the intranet.

‘A   rapist,   violent   rape,   someone   with   obsessive   fixation disorder.’

He types quickly, clicks the mouse, types some more. ‘Too many results,’ he says. ‘Time’s running out.’

‘Try the first victim’s name.’

‘No results,’ he sighs, tearing his hair.

‘A  serial  rapist  who’s  been  treated,  possibly  chemically castrated,’ Margot says, thinking out loud.

‘We need to check the databases against each other, but that will take too long,’ he says, getting up from his chair. ‘This isn’t working. What the hell are we going to do?’

‘She’s dead,’ Margot sighs, then leans back. ‘She might have a few minutes left, but . . .’

‘I don’t know if I can handle this,’ Adam says. ‘We can see her, we can see her face, her home . . . Christ, we can see right into her life, but we can’t find out who she is until she’s dead and someone finds her body.’

Want to read more? Stalker is OUT NOW

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