All Things Mysterious Volume Twenty-Six
Brand and the Costumed Corpses Part Two--See All Things Mysterious Volume Twenty-Five for the beginning of this exciting adventure!
Johannssonsonn eyed the frozen Abe Lincoln figure closely. He straightened up, with some difficulty, and said, ‘Well, it’s beyond me. How these figures ended up frozen on a mountainside, it’s a mystery!’
Most of the other hikers had continued on to the summit; overwhelmed by curiosity, Saskia and Brand had lingered behind to shadow the inspector as he investigated. Not that he’d done a whole lot of sleuthing. A perfunctory glance at the frozen solid victims and then some excuse as to why he had to leave was about the extent of it. But for now, what to think of two costumed corpses frozen on the side of a mountain? As Saskia had hypothesized, neither human-filled iceberg had been there for long. But how long HAD they been there? Why were they dressed as they were? Who had killed them? The ineptitude of the investigator, Johannassonsonn, filled none of the hikers with confidence, but he was all they had, and Brand and Saskia waited patiently for the outcome of his musing. At last he spoke. ‘My stars, I am hungry! Suppertime!’ And with that he was gone.
‘There he goes again! I don’t get him at all,’ cried Saskia.
‘Never met anyone like him!’ agreed Brand.
‘Seriously, what’s the deal? He isn’t even trying to solve this!’
‘You got me. I don’t know what to do now!’
‘Me neither. You want a sandwich?’ The matronly lady at the rest station farther down the mountain insisted that Brand take a bagful of sandwiches along with him, no doubt pegging him accurately as a neophyte in the ways of nature and figuring that extra nourishment would come in handy.
‘Sure.’ As they ate, Brand kept giving sidelong glances at his companion; his decided desire for her had waned a bit, now it was more like they were partners in crime, which they literally were.
‘If you ask me, the first thing to do is to thaw these poor people and find out if they froze to death, or what,’ said Saskia.
‘Sounds good. Should we tell someone? It’s a cinch that that boob of an Inspector isn’t going to do anything,’ replied Brand.
‘That’s for sure. You know what? That nitwit isn’t going to do anything--let’s go down to the waystation and get a sled or something and at least get those folks out of the snow.’
‘Isn’t that tampering with evidence?’ asked Brand, nervous now at taking over the investigation, such as it was.
‘Probably, but it beats doing nothing,’ came the reply.
Not at all convinced of that, Brand reluctantly followed Saskia a ways down the mountain to the ranger station or whatever they called it in Sweden, only to find it deserted.
‘Well, this is a pretty pickle! Where is everybody?’ shouted Saskia, outraged.
‘Maybe they’re all out investigating?’ queried Brand, who was becoming more and more intimidated by this formidable woman, his ardor deflating by the minute.
‘Ah, the heck with it--I’m tired of standing around and---hello!’ Saskia had spotted several long blue sledges behind the building. ‘I’m sure they won’t mind if we borrow a couple of these and help them out!’
Not nearly so sure, Brand grabbed the rope handle at the front of one of the sleds, Saskia the other, and they set off back up the trail to where the two mysteriously costumed corpses lay, all thought of completing the hike gone now. Anyway it would be a relief to get away from that frustrated drill instructor!
‘But the problem is, where do we take them if no one’s at the station?’ asked Brand. This stopped Saskia in her tracks. ‘That’s a good question.’
As they were pondering their next move, they were startled by a shout of warning as an out-of-control skiier went whistling past them, followed by a cop on skis in hot pursuit, or cold pursuit. The racer tried and failed to negotiate a sharp turn on the slope that led to the station, and the two ended up in a heap, face down in the snow. Fortunately the officer recovered first and cornered the suspect by the simple expedient of sitting on him. Naturally Saskia and Brand, having appointed themselves honorary Swedish police, came schussing up and offered to help.
‘Yes, would you sit here, please?’ asked the officer-on-skis. Saskia and Brand dutifully sat down on the suspect; between the two of them they were about the weight of the Swede so the alleged miscreant was well mashed into the snow. The cop continued on down the slope. Thirty minutes passed, Brand and Saskia looked ruefully at one another. Was there some sort of conspiracy against the Swedish mountain cops actually investigating, or were Johannssonsonn and his colleague anomalies? Ah, here came the answer! In the distance they could see Johannssonsonn and the other cop, the lady, coming toward them. At this point the suspect started squirming and spluttering. ‘Let me up!’ he shouted. ‘Sorry, pal. Orders,’ said Brand. ‘Can’t let you get away,’ added Saskia. ‘But I didn’t do anything!’ the man yelled. He started kicking and flailing as the two Swedish officers came up to them. To Brand’s astonishment, the lady cop said, ‘Ok, you can get up now. Let him go.’ And the erstwhile suspect got up, brushed himself off, and skiied away, but not without a dirty look and a shouted curse in the direction of Brand, Saskia, and the five-oh.
‘What was that all about?’ queried Saskia. ‘I mean, I don’t want to get sued for sitting on that guy.’
‘No one is suing anyone. Just a case of mistaken identity,’ said Johannssonsonn. ‘You see, I thought he was here to incite violence at the demonstration.’
This was a new twist. ‘What demonstration?’ asked Saskia.
Before Johannssonsonn could answer, his colleague spoke up. ‘Don’t pretend you don’t know! You are both under arrest!’
Stunned into speechlessness, the two, along with the sledges, allowed themselves to be skiied away.
Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion to Brand and the Costumed Corpses!
Meanwhile try some of these Scandinavian treats:
Where would you run if you betrayed your country’s biggest crime boss? An isolated island, perhaps? But sanctuary is elusive!
This first in a series of adventures of DI Huss finds a victim defenestrated. At all appearances a suicide, but the inspector wonders…...
Swedish crime writer Camilla Lackberg continues the series of fellow (albeit fictitious Swedish crime writer Erica Falck, who is perturbed upon finding a Nazi artifact among her late mother’s effects.
Questions/Comments/Jellied Eels? mike@mysteriousbooks