Cover

Leseprobe

Cameron Strike

 

 

Decapitator

 

 

copyright © 2016 by Cameron Strike. All rights reserved.

 

People and events in this novel are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

 

Books by Cameron Strike

 

 

Becker & Zonk

 

#1 - Decapitator

 

#2 - Gone Boys

 

# 3 - House of Carnage

 

 

 

Berlin Noir

 

#1 - City of Death

 

#2 - Devil’s Mountain

 

 

Contents

Lisa Becker

Homicide Squad 7

Where’s your head?

A charming character

Good news

Playground

The Unholy place

A swamp of primeval male slime

No human aspects

Killer Instinct

Off with his head!

Serial rapist

Love is shit

Peculiar animal

Pool Party

Dead Bastard

A Flange of Vultures

Forceful reporting

How to chop a head off

Silent witness

Gallantry or whatever you call it

The trophy

Evil America

No tears

Not a demotion

Dragnet

Too much of a cliché

Uppercut

The link

Man on a bicycle

Some kind of system

Epilog

 

When she got closer, it became obvious that the man was dead. Living people have more head.

 

Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment

 

 

 

Lisa Becker

 

The first murder took place on one of those very special days, so Lisa Becker couldn't complain. It was the last thing she needed: She started the day in good spirits, whistling while pouring herself a cup of coffee, only to hear: “A man in Lichtenberg had been decapitated. The place looks as if a pig has exploded in it, the man bled to death. Pop around and check it out, will you?”

Good thing it was one of those days; it no longer mattered. Lisa had not slept properly because the hairy monster on the first floor had been drunk as a skunk, raging loudly about bloody foreigners in general, and the owner of the kebab snackbar down the road in particular, because he had apparently refused to serve him. Lisa couldn't understand why. She would have given him a whole case of beer in the hope that someone would run over that tosser.

When the stereo started up punctually at six thirty, Lisa got to know the new Morning Show host on 104.6 RTL, who set the benchmark for tiresome halfwits a couple of inches higher. A very impressive achievement in a private radio landscape, bursting with chronically cheerful funsters who found everything hilarious - especially themselves.

“Wake up, sleepy heads, let the sun in, pour yourselves a coffee! Which reminds me: Have you heard? Hugh Hefner has a new girlfriend! And her sonogram is really cute...”

“Shut the fuck up,” Lisa sighed at the ancient joke. She switched to Radio Eins, which calmed her nerves. She dozed a little to the sound of Herbert Grönemeyer, then got up and staggered out of the bedroom towards the bathroom for her morning ablutions. In the hallway, she noticed that both the kitchen and the living room lights were still on and the living room door leading to the small inner yard was open, which could only mean that Berlin's burglars had had staff meeting last night because nothing had been stolen. Still - what kind of cop was she?

She asked herself that question all the time. While brushing her teeth, Lisa considered whether her electric toothbrush could be used as a vibrator. She rejected the amazingly obvious idea on hygienic and social grounds. She really had to pull herself together. Lisa found it difficult to accept that her profession hadn’t changed her at all. She had expected, in fact taken it for granted, it would. If you deal with criminals every day (or at least every fortnight or so), then private and mundane considerations, such as the misappropriation of toothbrushes or the criticism of the standard of private radio stations, should not play a major role. There were more important things in life, after all - for instance, purging the city of crime and so on, doing proper police work. That is, unless you're involved in writing reports, phoning around, or wading through files, which in reality takes up 90 percent of your time.

Lisa brushed back her long black hair and tried to drape her mane around her shoulders so that her double chin was neutralized. She was satisfied with herself after abandoning her 99th diet. She thought herself pretty and there were plenty of men who agreed; she was aware of that. Unfortunately, they were the type from whom you wouldn't buy even a Big Issue.

Lisa shuffled through hallway and living room to the kitchen and continued to philosophize about her job. Being with the Landeskriminalamt - specifically the Mordkommission, investigating murders – didn't feel special at all. But at least she didn’t belong to the normal police – LKA was a government agency in its own right. So Lisa never had to deal with actual police work: Monitoring stolen cars, clashing with football fans and being told by masked demonstrators throwing stones and bottles at you that “everyone in Berlin hates the police.”

Lisa's job was slightly less frustrating because it was all about murder. Boring, always the same crap. Either a holdup murder, a shoot out, knifing in the drug milieu or family tragedies with drunken husbands. They were never really baffling but created too much damn work. Lisa's homicide squad was checking out the death of a hustler. It wasn't clear whether this was a murder or the idiot didn't realize when it was best to loosen the chains. Ten times a year, someone dies in an “auto-erotic accident” and around 80 more in drug-related deaths. A funny old profession.

The coffee was brewing when the doorbell rang. Lisa shuffled sullenly to the door in her pajamas and opened it without checking the peephole. Sven beamed at her, disgustingly awake and alert and tried desperately not to stare at her impressive cleavage.

“Hi, how are you?”

“Come on in.”

Sven slid his thin body over the threshold into the kitchen, sat down routinely at the table near the small kitchen and helped himself to coffee. Lisa nibbled on her crispbread, which she hated, but what could she do? The scales said 95 Kilo, just incredible. Apparently, she amassed fat molecules through the air or absorbed them by osmosis. She hardly ever ate properly. At most in the cafeteria at noon, if there was steak on the menu. Or sausages. Or that fabulous potato salad. Damn, Berlin was constantly in a state of emergency, female councilors were selling their bodies on the street, but the LKA canteen always had delicious food to offer. They preferred to make do with outdated computers, outdated weapons and outdated superiors.

“What was that noise at your place last night?” Sven asked as he sat down beside her.

“Noise?” Lisa yawned apathetically.

“Like a baby wailing, then a scraping sound and then clattering.”

Lisa perked up. “Here?”

Sven drank the hot coffee with one swig. He could have performed the stunt at cheap fairs or on Wetten Dass. Instead, he was a freelance journalist, which was almost as well paid.

“In your garden,” the coffee-fakir nodded. “It was definitely down here.”

“No idea.” Lisa shrugged her shoulders. “I left the door open because of the heat. Maybe it was some kind of animal.”

“Or one of the men who knock at your door,” Sven grinned awkwardly, as he always did when he tried to make a joke that was also a discreet chat-up line.

“No, they all have keys now,” Lisa replied dryly, which irritated Sven. Sven had a lot of endearing qualities; a sense of humor was not one of them. Certainly not now.

“Really?” he asked unnerved.

“No.”

“Oh, okay, I understand.” Sven got some more coffee and sat down next to Lisa who was brooding again. Why did he come down to her so often? Well, the answer was clear, but on the other hand: she had never given the impression of being particularly keen on him and she had lived in this house in Kreuzberg for two years. She on the ground floor, he on the top floor, separated by four flights of stairs. He should have lost interest by now. Men did that constantly, particularly those with whom she had had relationships. Maybe it was because she didn't let him have a go? If she did, he would probably be done with her in four weeks. It was probably wiser to keep him as a sort of family friend. That way she always had someone who gave her the feeling she was beautiful.

“Don't think I have anything against you meeting men,” Sven said apologetically. He did this constantly. He apologized for his mere presence. There's no excuse for that, a cynic would say. But that would be unfair. Sven was a decent bloke as long as you didn't mention politics, animal welfare and the imperialist American pigs. Then he became tiresome. Big time.

“That's ok,” grumbled Lisa. “I've got to move now.” She stood up.

“Sure. I just wanted to make check that you weren't burgled or something.”

“Then you should've checked last night.”

Sven blushed. On some men that looked sweet, but not on this gawky thirty year old beanpole with his John Lennon Memorial glasses in old jeans and a lumberjack shirt (Norwegian sweater in winter), sitting at your table early in the morning making conversation before your brain can put two words together.

“I considered it, but I didn't want to wake you and thought it was probably an animal.”

Lisa looked at him for the first time this morning. She was surprised by the dark rings under his eyes. He never looked particularly healthy, which is usual for vegetarians, but in his case the cause was too many cigarettes. He never smoked in her apartment but when she visited him upstairs she was reminded of the small, stuffy smoking room at the school where the coolest pupils met to practice nonchalance and smoker's cough. But today Sven looked worse than usual.

“You haven't been up all night because of that, right? You look as though you haven't slept at all.”

Sven was silent. It seemed as if his mind was elsewhere. He looked at Lisa, and his eyes were filled with a mixture of exhaustion, fear and being caught unawares.

My goodness, Lisa thought, he's really been up all night because of that.

Sven jumped up and simply said “Bye.” He was gone. Lisa didn't know what to make of it. What was her relationship to Sven? He looked good, in an alternative, serious way. He was a couple of years older than she was, but not much, she was already thirty-two. She hadn't had a serious liaison for some time, at least not with all the trimmings, going swimming, taking short holidays together and all the stuff that made a standard relationship. She liked him all right. He was a sensitive, warm-hearted guy, would certainly be a loving partner slash father, in fact exactly what women wanted. Or should want. But actually in principle? Hmm, well.

Her thoughts on men were soon replaced by more important issues, specifically choosing the right shoes. The shoe shelf in the hall was overfull; it was imperative to give some of them away or buy an even larger shelf, as usual.

Then the more important question: To tuck in or not to tuck in? Her dark blue trousers had a stretch waistband, so it wouldn't be uncomfortable, but she let her blouse flutter around outside again so her bra was not too obvious. The last time she tucked it in, the looks her colleagues gave her – and most of all, Fabian – had been somehow been offensive. She was probably just imagining things, but she didn't imagine the significant belly bulge above the belt. She couldn't hold it in all the time, because that maximized her breasts grotesquely; they were much, much too big anyway. It was apparently the worst thing to have in today's society. Of course, big breasts were in demand, but they had to swing around on a thin woman; otherwise, exactly the same breasts were totally disgusting. Lisa had given up trying to understand it, but could not yet rise above it. It was no comfort to her that Marilyn Monroe wore size 42-44.

Once she had her young, dynamic power woman clothes on and pulled the key out of the lock, she heard a noise. It was a strange mix of a hum and rumble. It seemed to be coming from the living room. Curious, Lisa crept in there. The clatter was being generated from behind the sofa. Lisa bent over the back, when something sprang up in her face.

She jumped back instinctively, turned and took cover behind the chair. With some pride, she observed that her police training was still in effect. Her gun was in the office; otherwise, she would have grabbed hold of it. Instead of that, she surfaced and eyed her houseguest.

The animal was of indefinable age and weighed about eight pounds. It had black fur, clear, golden eyes and all the characteristics of a European shorthair cat. It sat on his haunches and looked at Lisa with interest and was apparently completely at ease. And there was that sound again. The cat purred. It obviously felt very comfortable now it had the room to itself.

“Out!” Lisa hissed angrily. The cat didn't move and kept purring. Lisa was not sure how to deal with the alien. She preferred not to fight with anyone at this early hour, let alone with an animal that may have a disease. On the other hand, she couldn't let the beast stay in the apartment; she might return in the evening to find tattered curtains, furniture full of piddle and sexually abused houseplants.

Lisa tried to be polite. She opened the balcony door wide and lured the cat with encouraging noises.

“Come on, sweet little sparrow killer,” she cooed. “Get your ass out of here, you useless little monster.”

The cat kept purring, evidently fascinated by this strange fat woman, and didn't budge. For Lisa this was the last straw. She took a couple of steps forward, grabbed the animal with both hands and threw it out the door. The cat crash-landed on the small lawn. She hadn't struggled and didn't protest even now. It shook itself down briefly, sat down and then scratched its ear. Lisa was given only a reproachful glance.

“Off!” Lisa insisted. But she already felt sorry for it. Cats are good at that. How can you be mad at them?

“Sorry,” Lisa murmured and closed the glass door. The cat watched Lisa as she disappeared inside the flat. It then trotted towards the garages to develop its new strategy.

 

Homicide Squad 7

 

There had been an accident somewhere on Kleiststraße. As usual. Lisa sat in her red Polo and tried to hum the mantra Christiane had taught her. She couldn't; it was just too tedious. Instead she revved up the engine a couple of times, which, unsurprisingly, got her nowhere. Several of her fellow sufferers joined in, some honked, some cursed, some got out of their cars, or even – it seemed to Lisa – jerked off. Well, maybe they were just playing Angry Birds or something.

Lisa remembered her early days in Berlin. That was a real culture shock. Berlin was quite different to Bad Münstereifel. The traffic, for instance. If Lisa hadn't needed a car professionally, she would have done away with her Polo immediately. Every single motorist in Berlin was insane. But that wasn't all. In her spare time, she preferred to use BVG Berlin Public Transport, and she could count on one thing: there would be at least one drunkard on the train, no matter what time it was. That was scary for a student policewoman from the Eifel, even if her father ran a private brewery. The unconstrained use of alcohol, people with beer bottles, whose content might be drunk, spilt or just peed on house walls or shrubbery. In public! She thought she would get used to it but that was eight years ago and she had given up that idea.

At 24, she had been one of the oldest students at the Police Academy. Lisa's father Richard had quickly accepted that his only child had other ideas about lifestyle. Her mother, Hilde, was quite different. She regarded it as a personal disgrace that her child had left the Eifel. Lisa had nothing against her home. She loved the Eifel. In summer, when the rape flowers bloomed and green meadows and fields alternated with yellow blooms, it was the most beautiful place in the world to her. But she had to leave. Because of her parents, because of her profession, and because you don't spend your whole fucking life in one place.

It was almost nine o'clock, when the jam cleared and Lisa trundled towards Keithstraße. She parked the car in the garage and made her way to her office. When she entered the hall of LKA 1, he came towards her, a coughing, sweating firestorm. A man, nearly 60 years old, with a moustache that looked as if it had been glued on.

“Morning, Chief,” Lisa forced herself to sound cheerful.

“We can never get ahold of you!” thundered Juhnke. “Where were you?”

Lisa stayed calm and let him catch his breath. She still found it strange that her boss was called Juhnke, like Berlin’s most popular Entertainer of the 20th century. Could it have decisively helped his career? There had to be some explanation behind why this man was her boss.

“I was stuck in a traffic jam,” Lisa justified herself.

“You're always in a traffic jam.”

“No, the jam is always with me. I think it's tracking me.”

Zero response, as always. Juhnke was the type of man who regarded women as the object, never the author, of jokes.

“Come with me,” he growled now. “There’s something new on your desk.”

This was his standard phrase for “There's been a murder.” You probably find the term ‘murder’ plain boring if you've had to deal with it for thirty years. Each new case is a new pile of paper, nothing more. Lisa hoped someday she would be that unconcerned. She really did.

She followed Juhnke into his office. As the head of Homicide Squad 7, he insisted on having his own room, even though other, higher ranked officers preferred to share an open plan office with their team to promote a community feeling. That was not Juhnke's style and the rest of the team was grateful for that. Whatever the cause of his penetrating body odor, it was strong enough to sentence him to a life of eternal bachelorhood.

“Don't sit down, Becker,” said Juhnke. “Here's the address.” He gave her a piece of paper. “Zonk and forensic are already there looking for clues. Now move it!”

Lisa checked the note. Siegfriedstraße in Lichtenberg. She knew it; it was a useful shortcut and anyone driving through Lichtenberg was grateful for shortcuts.

“What exactly has happened?” Lisa wanted to know. Juhnke looked up and shrugged his shoulders.

“Someone chopped off someone else's head last night. Should be quite a mess. Oh, before I forget: We've run out of Snickers here. Get us some on your way back, will you?”

 

Where’s your head?

 

Siegfriedstraße was in a typical Lichtenberg ensemble with ugly prefabs. The GDR neglected old buildings in favour of their lockers for humans. The modernization trend finally found its way to Lichtenberg after Prenzlauer Berg had changed into a Garden of Eden for Greenies who preferred to not have as many foreigners around as in Kreuzberg. The crime scene was in an old building; Lisa did not know if that was better or worse.

There was a lot going on. Three police cars and the vans of various investigators blocked the street. Because it no longer mattered, at least twenty residents stood in the empty street and gawped. Twice as many again were at their windows. This could become amusing later on when the ambulance collected the body parts. Lisa, however, didn't care; she would be long gone by then.

“May I get through?” Lisa waded through the crowd. “Excuse me, I must go inside.” People reacted angrily. A fat old guy with a vest and suspenders tried to hold her back.

“The police won't let you. You'd just disrupt their work.”

Lisa had no time for this. She still hadn't yet learnt to identify herself as a police officer. Even when she produced her ID, not many believed her. She didn't look like a Police Inspector. With toil, hardship and the help of various crime series, people were accustomed to the female inspector species, but those were either thin or in their late forties. Lisa had completed the sport performance tests by the skin of her teeth and couldn't explain how in hindsight. She could also not explain how she ever got her breasts into a B cup bra.

Lisa fought her way to the house entrance. One of the two policemen on duty knew the young Inspector.

“Morning, Frau Becker,” the gray mustache greeted her. Lisa was embarrassed because she didn't know his name. There was a certain pecking order – you could even call it apartheid; plain clothes officers always felt superior to their uniformed counterparts. Formerly you worked your way up and out of a uniform. Lisa, however, had never worn a uniform; she was hired directly from college, so she had no excuse.

“Good morning,” she called back, a tad too cheerfully. Embarrassing too – after all this was the scene of a violent crime, and she was playing Bing Crosby.

Fritz Krumm's first floor flat was a pigsty and not just this morning. The police equipment was only a quaint accessory among the empty beer bottles, the tattered magazines (mostly XXX-rated), dirty laundry and food scraps such as a banana peel, biscuits and something indefinable that, on closer inspection, turned out to be gnawed chop bones in a late stage of decomposition. The state the tenant would soon be in.

“Morning, Frau Becker!”

“Morning!”

“Be prepared for the worst. I nearly threw up.”

A forensic officer and his colleagues were already busy at work. The usual group of four to five people bustled around, trying to secure fingerprints in the usual places. Lisa walked carefully through the garbage grotto that used to be the hallway, towards the bedroom. The door was open and she saw Fabian Zonk talking to an unfamiliar man, probably a neighbor or something.

“Hi Fabian!”

“Hey, Liz!”

Fabian grinned his dazzling grin and Lisa had to pull herself together to focus on the job. She entered the bedroom; its sanitary state was a bit more extreme than the hallway's. The “bit” came mainly from a pool of blood that had discolored much of the cheap gray carpet. Oh yes, and, of course, through the body in the bed, which already had the famous Odeur d'Eath.

“Careful!”

Not to forget the head of the body, which she almost stumbled over trying to avoid some vomit. Fabian warned her just in time. Lisa stepped gently over the head and tried not to look at it.

“My goodness, where's your head?", Fabian smiled cheerfully as he shook her hand. She didn't need his help and balanced in a blood-free spot.

“How long have you been here?”

“Half an hour,” said Hauptkommissar Zonk.” He was found an hour ago. By a neighbor, Herrn Schultz' mother.” He pointed at the quiet, haggard man in his mid-forties, who stood beside him.

Lisa recovered. The whole surreal situation resolved into tangible components. A shockingly mangled body, the old woman who found it, probably suffering extreme shock, and her son, struggling not to break down.

“How's your mother?” Lisa asked cautiously.

Schultz barely stirred. “She's upstairs resting,” he whispered.

“Not in a fit state, I fear,” Fabian added. “It'll take a while. The ambulance has given her a shot.”

Fabian's look said: You talk to him. You’re better than stupid-asshole me. At least that's how Lisa interpreted it; Fabian would've expressed it differently.

“Why don't you go to your mother?” she suggested to the trembling man. “We can talk to you later.”

Schultz left the room cautiously. Lisa finally dared to examine things more closely while Fabian looked out of the window onto the street where a crowd had gathered. In the distance, he could see a police unit getting ready to move people on. Lisa first just looked at the body on the bed. It was covered up well and in sort of pajamas. Most of the sheet was colored red-brown; the two pillows were as well. The head had probably rested on them peacefully and snored. Then abruptly stopped snoring. It had been a clean blow with an axe or something. The coroner would decide that. Anyway, it was a clean cut. The backbone didn't protrude, but had been cut skillfully. His neck was bleeding; you could distinguish his Adam's apple.

Lisa was reminded of the Body Worlds exhibition. All those dried, skinless corpses ruined her appetite; she had lost four pounds after seeing it. Unfortunately, this effect was not repeatable. She was now pretty tough and went on to examine the head. She crouched in front of it.

Fritz Krumm's eyes were closed. It probably happened so fast that he didn't wake up. Viewed in that light, it was a humane killing. The perpetrator didn't torture his victims. He just beheaded them.

“Who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?” said Fabian.

“What?” Lisa was still a bit slow this morning.

“Shakespeare,” explained Fabian. “Macbeth.”

“Oh, I'm just so impressed.”

Fabian squatted beside Lisa. He was so damn close that it put Lisa off her stride. He looked absolutely awesome again in his black jeans, black leather jacket and blue t-shirt. He also smelt good, was freshly showered and sloppily shaved as always. His middle parting was somewhat tousled and his blue eyes focused intensely on their goal. In this case, the goal was her cleavage. But maybe she was imagining that part.

“Fritz Krumm,” Fabian began in a professional tone, “fifty-eight, single, no children. Professional tram driver with the BVG for 30 years. Vegetating in this apartment for half of his life with little social contact outside the workplace. Schultz said he had never seen anyone go in or out of the flat, apart from handymen.”

Lisa stood up; Fabian stayed down. He was on a par with her big ass, she noticed nervously and hastily stepped back. Fabian smiled and stood up.

“It clearly happened last night,” she said. “So he was found relatively quickly.”

“Schultz says his mother was surprised to find the door was open. That's why she looked in. Well, you can't stop old women poking their nose into everything.”

“I guess this old biddy has learnt her lesson.”

“Why? Once she recovers from the shock she'll tell people about it for the rest of her life. It's like winning the lottery for her.”

Lisa glared at her colleague, who always managed to unsettle her. “You really are the most unfeeling monster I have ever met,” she snapped, though she knew that was not quite true. She had met worse unfeeling monsters, God knows.

Fabian, however, was not in a fighting mood. “The doctors want to chop up the body as quickly as possible. Do you want to look around?”

Lisa wanted to leave but she gave herself a few more minutes to inspect the body and crime scene. Of course, her observations were of as little value as Fabian's – detectives and forensic were responsible for collecting the evidence. Nevertheless, policemen all over the world feel committed to acting as if they were Adrian Monk: a quick look at the scene and the pool of suspects is narrowed down to three people, exposes false trails and transforms a seemingly insignificant detail into a blazing trail, leading directly to the killer. Complete rubbish, but they still check things out in case they find something.

But Lisa found nothing, almost to her relief. That was ultimately the point. No one wants to find a clue the others missed. You could be wrong and make a fool of yourself. Or worse: It could be right and then your colleagues think you're a know-all and the supervisor thinks you're a prodigy or Wonder Girl and expects brainwaves all the time. If you're a woman, it's twice as bad. She learnt this lesson quickly in her early days in the police force.

“Okay, that's all for the moment,” Lisa said and Fabian went ahead into the hallway. When he turned around, Lisa was able to catch her breath. The sight of Fabian's ass in his jeans contributed to the fact that she felt a whole lot better.

 

 


A charming character

 

Juhnke was all ears as he stuffed his face with a Snickers bar – smacking his chops like a wild boar – and listened to Fabian and Lisa’s report.

“The body was completely bloodless,” Fabian said conversationally, “the man was chalk white. It could be that Krumm hasn't seen the sun for decades. But considering that half the bedroom was steeped in red, I reckon the body and the head are now five kilos lighter. The blood diet works for everyone.”

Is he alluding to me? Lisa asked herself involuntarily.

“Was the blood dry?” asked Juhnke, as he crumpled the Snickers wrapping and threw it towards the wastepaper basket. He missed it by a couple of meters. Rumour had it that his use of firearms was almost as accurate. No wonder that he was doing a desk job; the validity of the Dilbert Principle could be proved even at a police station.

“Yes, it was,” said Lisa, “it couldn't be described as red any more. More of a Sienna-hazelnut tone.”

“Thank you, Frau Becker. Your powers of observation never cease to impress me.”

You've got a booger on your nose, Lisa thought. What she said was: “I would say that death occurred around 3 o'clock last night, but we'll have to wait for the autopsy. The murder weapon wasn't found, but I'm going for a kind of axe or even a particularly large butcher knife. A saw wasn't used, as the cut was very clean. The eyes were still closed, which indicates he was unaware of what happened. Moreover, no one heard screaming and there was no indication of a struggle. My personal guess: Either an act of revenge or the work of a psychopath.”

“What beautiful terminology we have to hand,” grinned Juhnke.

“Yes, that's what police training is all about these days,” Lisa replied casually.

“You learn a lot of nonsense in training which is of no use later on.”

Lisa didn't give a shit about her boss's comments. The pointed remarks about her education at the Academy were part of his usual repertoire. No one else in the department had been as heavily immersed in communication training and social sciences as she had. Of course, they knew about jurisprudence and forensic techniques, but then she had set herself other priorities. She realized very quickly that preparation for real working life was very limited at the Academy. Even now, she had the feeling that basically anyone could become a police inspector – all you needed to know were the service regulations and even they were seldom adhered to. The other thing that amazed her was that the proportion of women trained was thirty to forty percent; however, there were only about five percent in the police force. Where did they all go?

“I agree with Lisa,” Fabian chimed in. “I think this was a madman. Why would anyone kill an innocent tram driver, and in such a way?”

“A hustler maybe?” Juhnke asked.

Lisa and Fabian and grinned furtively at each other. No thanks, they thought.

“Happens all the time in Berlin,” Juhnke continued. “A gay Aidsmonger picks up a punter, goes to his place, knocks him off and cleans him out.”

“Could be, I suppose,” Lisa agreed reluctantly, “but I can't imagine that Herr Krumm had anything of value in his flat. It looked more like a rat-breeding farm.”

“I noticed some interesting magazines,” Fabian said, “mainly trade magazines examining the female bust.”

Juhnke threw a glance at Lisa's torso. She immediately remembered her first conversation with the boss. “I desperately need a woman,” was the first sentence she heard from him. She nearly answered, “I'm happy to believe that.”

Back then, Homicide Squad 7 consisted solely of men, it was becoming embarrassing. Not to Juhnke, but to the Senator. And thus the freshly baked Oberkommissarin, Lisa Becker, moved from the Eifel to the LKA Berlin. Juhnke would have preferred a real Berliner, but there was no one available so he grabbed “the red eco-freak from the sticks,” as he later called her when she entered a room. And that wasn't her only problem in the early days; she had gained weight faster than a newborn Panda. She now had her problems under control, but not her weight.

“Well, whatever,” sighed Juhnke. “The department is currently under a lot of pressure because of all the shit in the rocker milieu. The city and the police chief have given that clear priority and I agree.”

“I don't know,” said Fabian. “The press will go bonkers. An exotic murder like this is great, almost like an execution. They love stuff like that.”

“What journalist-vermin like or dislike doesn't interest me, Zonk. That means you two will do the job. If you need help, let me know, we'll work something out. And if not, tough. It wouldn't affect me and you are not due for a promotion. Got it?”

And they were outside.

“I must say I really appreciate his straight talk,” said Fabian.

“Forget it. Or would you enjoy being in his shoes?”

They walked down the hall to the office they had shared for the last six months. Fabian was a rank above Lisa, but the difference between Hauptkommissar and Oberkommissar had little more than financial significance. However, she had only recently reached that rank, whereas Fabian had at least five years experience. But maybe it didn't matter to him that much?

“I definitely do not want his job,” he said, as he threw himself into his swivel chair. “I don't want to get fat really fast and become flabby. Either physically or mentally.”

“Well, when it comes to fat, I'm ideally equipped,” Lisa sighed a little too theatrically in the hope of hearing an indignant whaddyatalkingabout. It didn't happen.

Fabian poured himself an apple juice and then filled Lisa's outstretched glass. “So, suggestions?”

“Has Krumm's past been checked?” Lisa wanted to know.

“I asked Hoffmann to do it. He should be back soon.”

“Then we must talk to Frau Schultz. She might have seen something.”

“Tomorrow probably. We'll have to write a protocol,“ said Fabian. “But it's still early days. What do you think of her son? Still living with his mother at 44?”

“He said she was living with him.”

“Nope. The caretaker says the lease is in her name; he moved in with her several years ago.”

“To care for her?”

“She's perfectly healthy. Goes for a walk every day. No, I guess this guy is either gay or chronically unemployed, or both. Or a mama's boy.”

Lisa grinned. “So the perfect nominee as an insane killer with a chopper.”

Imprint

Publisher: BookRix GmbH & Co. KG

Publication Date: 04-10-2018
ISBN: 978-3-7438-6484-9

All Rights Reserved

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