No. 1 international bestseller and Swedish crime sensation Camilla Lackberg’s RETURNS with a new psychological thriller featuring Detective Patrik Hedström and Erica Falck, and we’ve got a gripping extract for you right here…
Eva began pulling up carrots. Off in the distance she saw Peter approaching on the tractor. His regular job was working for the Tetra Pak company, but he spent as much of his free time as possible on the tractor. This morning he’d gone out early, long before Eva was awake, taking along a sack lunch and a Thermos of coffee. A small wooded area belonged to the farm, and he’d decided to clear out the underbrush, so she knew he’d bring back firewood for the winter. He’d no doubt be sweaty and filthy, with aching muscles and a big smile.
She put the carrots in her basket and pushed it aside. The carrots were for the supper she’d cook this evening. Then she took off her gardening gloves and dropped them next to the basket before she headed towards Peter. She squinted her eyes, trying to catch sight of Nea on the tractor. She’d probably fallen asleep, as she always did. It had been an early start for the child, but she loved going to the woods with Peter. She loved her mother, but she adored her father.
Peter drove the tractor into the farmyard.
‘Hi, honey,’ said Eva after he switched off the engine.
Her heart beat faster when she saw his smile. Even after all these years he could still make her weak at the knees.
‘Hi, sweetheart! Have the two of you had a good day?’
‘Er, um . . .’
What did he mean by ‘the two of you’?
‘What about the two of you?’ she said.
‘What?’ said Peter, giving her a sweaty kiss on the cheek.
He looked around.
‘Where’s Nea? Is she taking an afternoon nap?’
There was a great rushing in Eva’s ears, and as if from far away she heard herself say:
‘I thought she was with you.’
They stared at each other as their world split apart.
Eva stood as if frozen to the spot, hugging her arms around her torso. Peter kept rushing around. He’d searched everywhere at least four or five times, lifting up bedclothes, moving the same boxes, calling Nea’s name over and over. But Eva knew it was pointless. Nea wasn’t here. She could feel her absence in her body.
She squinted her eyes, noticing a dot way off in the distance. A dot that got bigger and bigger, becoming a white splotch as it approached. Eva realized it must be the police. Soon she could clearly see the blue and yellow markings on the car, and a chasm opened inside her. Her daughter was missing. The police were here because Nea was missing. She’d been missing since this morning. Her brain struggled to take in the fact. How could they have been such bad parents not to notice their four-year-old had been gone all day?
‘Are you the one who called?’
An older man with silver hair had got out the police car and now came over to her. She nodded mutely, and he reached out to shake her hand.
‘Gösta Flygare. And this is Bertil Mellberg.’
An officer about the same age but significantly heavier shook her hand as well. He was sweating copiously and raised his arm to wipe his brow on his shirtsleeve.
‘Is your husband here?’ asked the thinner officer with greyer hair as he scanned the yard.
‘Peter!’ called Eva, alarmed at how weak her voice sounded.
She tried again, and Peter came rushing out of the woods.
‘Have you found her?’ he shouted.
Then he caught sight of the policemen and his heart sank.
It all seemed so unreal to Eva. This couldn’t be happening. She expected to wake up at any second, relieved to find she’d simply been dreaming.
The Girl in the Woods is out today!