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Leona: The Die Is Cast: A Leona Lindberg Thriller

Leona: The Die Is Cast: A Leona Lindberg Thriller

by Jenny Rogneby
Leona: The Die Is Cast: A Leona Lindberg Thriller

Leona: The Die Is Cast: A Leona Lindberg Thriller

by Jenny Rogneby

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Overview

This best-selling Scandinavian thriller follows its troubled heroine as she investigates a high-profile robbery for Stockholm's Violent Crimes Division.

Naked and bloody, a seven-year-old girl walks into a bank in central Stockholm in broad daylight and gets away with millions. Leona Lindberg of Stockholm's Violent Crimes Division agrees to work on the case. With a long, distinguished history in the police force, she seems the perfect choice. But Leona is grappling with deep issues of her own—a gambling addiction, a strained marriage—that could jeopardize the investigation. As she struggles to keep the volatile pieces of her life under control, the line between right and wrong becomes increasingly unclear—and even irrelevant. 

This is a hard-boiled crime novel, filled with unexpected twists and turns, featuring an unusual heroine. Leona makes for gripping reading while challenging feminine norms and posing questions about what lies behind the choices we make.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590518823
Publisher: Other Press, LLC
Publication date: 08/01/2017
Series: Leona Lindberg Series , #1
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 475,076
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jenny Rogneby was born in Ethiopia, but was given away for adoption when she was one year old. She grew up in northern Sweden, studied criminology at Stockholm University, and became an investigator in the Stockholm City Police Department. Her work inspired her to start writing and she formed the character of Leona, a criminal investigator with a dark past whose actions challenge social norms. In Sweden, Jenny is also known for her former career as a pop singer.

Read an Excerpt

Leona The Die Is Cast


By Jenny Rogneby

Other Press LLC

Copyright © 2014 Jenny Rogneby
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-59051-882-3


CHAPTER 1

My eyes felt dry. Fixed at a point, as often happens while your thoughts wander. I blinked twice to force my gaze away from the reversed block letters on the glass door to the conference room.

VCD: Violent Crimes Division.

Though renovations had only finished two months ago, the letters were already scratched. Above the words shone the yellow-and-blue police emblem. For my colleagues it stood for a feeling of belonging and community.

Not for me.

To me it symbolized confinement.

Within the walls of authority I could never feel free.

Despite my years as a police officer I had never been able to reconcile myself to being one of them. Just some cop. But work did play an important role in my life. In a way that no one yet understood.

If it wasn't for the fact that I, Leona Lindberg, at the age of thirty-four, knew that my constructed life would soon change, I wouldn't have been able to stand it much longer.

Anette, the unit's admin assistant, looked at me from across the conference table. She smiled. I moved the corners of my mouth. These days it was pure reflex. It hadn't always been that way. Until I was fifteen, I hadn't realized that smiling gave me an advantage. By studying other people I had learned how to socialize. I nodded at Anette, who was pointing at her watch and shaking her head at the fact we all had to sit and wait. The usual weekend's crop of new cases was about to be doled out. My colleagues were chatting. Laughing. A few were complaining about the heavy workload, saying that they definitely couldn't take on any more investigations. I sat quietly, trying to focus on something other than the conference table, but my eyes kept being drawn to the uneven cracks that angrily separated the twelve small tables, which someone had tried to push together into one. There were obvious differences of at least several millimeters in the heights. In more than four places one tabletop stuck out higher than the one next to it. Very irritating. My colleagues grumbled that the room was stuffy, but none of them noticed the gaps and uneven surface of the table.

But I said nothing.

That was the best policy.

I had learned to keep such observations to myself.

I looked out the windows, which ran the entire length of the room. Despite the sky's gray blanket of clouds and the raindrops that were running slowly down the windowpanes, life outside seemed like liberation. Like so many times before, I resisted the impulse to just walk out and leave it all behind.

I stayed where I was.

The door didn't open again until 11:47 a.m., when Superintendent Claes Zetterlund stepped in. He ran his hand through his dark-blond hair and shook his wet jacket vigorously before tossing it over the back of the nearest chair. My colleagues fell silent. Without a word he opened his black backpack and took out a folder. He set it down on the table and took a breath as if to start speaking. But I was there first.

"I'm sorry for being late?" I suggested.

He'd had several seconds to make his excuses. He could at least have mumbled something apologetic when he opened the door. It was only polite — that much I had picked up about everyday social niceties. When he didn't speak I realized that there would be no apology. The look of surprise on his face confirmed my conclusion. He lost his train of thought. Held the inhaled air in his lungs, frowning and looking around to see who had dared to utter such a comment. In a matter of seconds the calm, relaxed atmosphere in the room had become as tense as Claes's moody temperament. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught Anette's quick glance. Everyone was silent. Waiting for Claes's reaction. His piercing eyes finally found their way to me.

"What the hell is your problem, Leona? I've had a terrible morning. The murder last Friday, another rape in Tantolunden, two new cases of aggravated assault on former gang members on Sveavagen, an arson on Lidingo, and another robbery that a bunch of goddamned reporters are terrorizing me about. I'm not in the mood to take shit from anyone in here who doesn't outrank me. Understood?"

I kept quiet. I had made my point. Claes looked out over the conference table. There wasn't a sound. Even a colleague with a higher rank would probably have chosen to keep quiet after that outburst. Claes could really become aggressive.

"We'll start with the robbery."

His voice was still too loud; he seemed to be having a hard time controlling it.

"Robbery, Ostermalmstorg. Nybrogatan 39."

I could see that the file he was reading from was thin. Not much had been documented. A statement and an interview or two at most.

Suddenly "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC blared out of his pants pocket. He took out his cell phone.

"Violent Crimes, Claes Zetterlund."

Answering the phone in the middle of a meeting might be considered rude in other professions. In our line of work you were stared at if you ignored calls. The public could be in danger.

Claes always talked loudly on the phone. Almost as if he was making a show of it.

"I can't comment on that yet. We have too little informa — .... Not yet. ... No, I said. ... You can damn well wait until...."

He tossed the phone down on the table.

"Damn it, they're like a pack of dogs, those reporters. Who can take the robbery on Ostermalm?"

He looked around the room. No one volunteered, as usual. Everyone thought they had enough to do with their ongoing investigations. Besides, no one wanted to be stuck with a shit case. Giving us the chance to volunteer to investigate the cases that came in, instead of simply doling them out and ordering us to do them, was the department's way of pretending that we had the opportunity to influence our own work situation. But everyone knew that if no one volunteered, Claes would just choose the person he thought was the most suitable.

Claes, who knew that everyone avoided certain types of investigations, had a habit of saying as little as possible about the details of a crime before he assigned the case.

So we were understandably suspicious.

Of everything.

We were especially wary of cases that were being watched closely by the media. So if you didn't know what the case was about, you kept quiet. A robbery on Ostermalm could mean anything, from a helicopter robbery to a mugging. Maybe some celebrity had been threatened with a weapon and had their iPhone, iPad, iPod, or some other iSomething stolen, and would now be crying about it in the newspapers, on their blog, and via Twitter and Facebook. Whining about getting their hair mussed and making sky-high claims for damages that no normal person could afford to pay, especially not the perpetrator. No one wanted to take on a case like that. Especially not now, just after the summer holidays, when everyone wanted peace and quiet to go through the hundreds of emails that came in while they were away.

I was amused by the silence. It was funny that everyone considered themselves so busy, despite the long coffee breaks they took in the afternoons.

Volunteering to investigate complicated cases that others avoided was a good way of gaining points. Unarmed robbery was normally not considered very exciting. The high-status crimes were homicide, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, rape, and other crimes where the victim had been seriously injured. Plus, most investigators hated having the media breathing down their necks. Major media attention on a robbery meant that it must be something spectacular, which interested me for a very particular reason. In a few seconds I would volunteer.

But not yet.

Claes looked around the room with raised eyebrows.

"No one?"

My colleagues were squirming. They looked down at the table. Up at the wall. Everywhere they wouldn't meet Claes's eyes. Everyone knew that at any moment Claes would dole out the case to whomever he liked. If you didn't make eye contact the risk of being chosen was lessened. The performance made me smile. Claes had evidently noticed my smile and stared straight at me.

I cleared my throat.

It was time.

"Okay, Claes, I'll take it."

I sat up straight, to show I was serious. He nodded curtly. Anette, who often mentioned that the distribution of cases should be more even among detectives, looked first at me, then at Claes.

"Leona, do you really have time? You already have the murder in Humlegarden and the armed robberies from last week."

Anette was right. The Humle murder was a big job. Another case the others on the squad had avoided. Claes glanced at her sharply. He pushed the file across the conference table. If not for the uneven tabletop it probably would have slid all the way over to me. Now it stopped about halfway.

I clenched my teeth.

A colleague picked up the file. He handed it over to me with relief in his eyes. Claes looked at me.

"This is a very different case, Leona. You'll really get a chance to show your stuff. Now listen up, everyone!" It was an unnecessary request. The room was already silent.

"At 10:37 a.m. today a seven-year-old girl went into SEB at Nybrogatan 39. It's one of the few bank branches that still handles cash. Somehow she managed to get five bank tellers to hand over bags of banknotes. None of the eight customers who were on the premises intervened. The girl then left the bank with the money and disappeared."

Claes now had everyone's attention. This was no ordinary investigation. Definitely not a shit case.

"Because of the little girl and the media's interest in the case, the bosses higher up are on the rampage. Their orders are that the case should have top priority," said Claes, looking at me.

"You're telling us that SEB was robbed by a seven-year-old? Was she carrying a bazooka or something?" Perhaps I shouldn't have said anything, but I couldn't resist pointing out how comical it all sounded.

"Why don't you shut up, Leona, and let me finish."

I often had a hard time comprehending Claes's choice of words and the way he constantly raised his voice. He seemed to have a relentless storm of emotions bubbling up inside him and affecting his mood.

I wondered how that felt.

"No weapon has been reported. The girl had a tape recorder with her and played a message. What exactly was said on it we still don't know. The bank employees are being interviewed right now. According to witnesses the girl is about seven. She was naked and is also said to have had blood on her body. So far we have found no trace of her. She seems to have vanished into thin air."

People were murmuring indistinctly. A little girl had carried out a bank robbery?

Naked.

Bloody.

The team had never faced anything like this before. There probably hadn't been a similar case at any point in Swedish crime history. We had all been involved in strange investigations over the years, but even a few of the older detectives seemed moved. I turned to Claes.

"A naked girl on the streets of Stockholm can hardly have gone up in smoke. Someone must have seen something. Has the dog squad been out there?" Claes avoided meeting my eyes. He acted as if the question had been asked from somewhere near the ceiling at the far end of the room. He looked up as he answered.

"The dogs behaved strangely and were unable to pick up a scent. According to witnesses the girl went north on Nybrogatan. After that it was as if she was swallowed by the crowd."

"Someone must have picked her up in a car nearby. Or she could have disappeared up a stairwell. What do we have there?" I asked.

"Cars in the area are being stopped. There have been no traces so far. Officers are going door to door. We'll have to see what that produces."

He looked down at his papers.

"The preliminary investigation is being conducted by the police, because so far we have no suspects, but considering the circumstances, with the girl and the media attention, the case will be randomly assigned to a prosecutor."

This was to be expected. Having the police run the investigation was usually simpler, partly because the person in charge was then easily accessible in police headquarters and not at the city prosecutor's office, which was some distance away, but mainly because detectives were more on the ball and aggressive when things got heated. Police officers were more inclined to use force where necessary, while prosecutors were usually more cautious. They were focused on whether the case would work out in the courtroom, and only interested in an eventual conviction.

In this case I saw an advantage in having a prosecutor lead the preliminary investigation rather than a detective. Some prosecutors were relatively passive, which was a good thing, as I hoped to be able to conduct the investigation in my own way, without having to account for every little step. The person in charge of the preliminary investigation was important — they would set the bar for how the investigation would proceed. On a couple of occasions I had refused to take a case because of the person who was leading it. We didn't get along. He kept interfering with my work. I couldn't deal with that. I preferred to work on my own.

"I've put together a team and scheduled a meeting at three o'clock so you can brief them on the case. By then presumably we'll have the prosecutor in place."

He looked at me to gauge my reaction. He knew that I didn't like working with just anyone. I nodded curtly.

"How much money did they get?" Fredrik asked predictably. He was always interested in unusual crimes. He had said "they," which implied he assumed that others besides the girl were behind the robbery. This was a reasonable conclusion, of course, if you ruled out the unlikely possibility of a hyper-intelligent, criminal little girl. If anyone believed that, though, presumably the case would have ended up at the Juvenile Division rather than the VCD. Even so, it was impossible to get away from the fact that it was the girl who had committed the robbery.

"You mean how much did she get, that little seven-year-old girl?" I said, smiling.

Claes flung a folder on the table with a thud. He seemed to have had enough of my comments.

"Maybe I can't trust you to be responsible for a case of this importance, Leona. You don't seem to be able to handle it."

I was getting tired of Claes's attacks.

"Not the Humle murder either, then? Or the robberies from last week? You can let someone else handle them, too, if you're suddenly doubting my ability. Why don't you assign the robbery to another detective, if you think there is someone more capable!"

If he wanted a fight, I wasn't going to back down. He stared at me. A flicker of doubt flew through my mind. Had I crossed a line? I had, after all, implied that I was a better investigator than my colleagues. A statement like that was almost a capital offense around here, where everyone was supposed to be equal. No one was allowed to claim superiority, unless they had been promoted to a management position.

The room was again dead silent. Claes stood leaning over the conference table with both hands on the tabletop. He stared at me wide-eyed.

"You're dismissed!" he said.

I stared at him, trying feverishly to read his expression. Was he serious? He raised one hand and pointed at the door with an outstretched arm. I didn't move.

"Are you having trouble understanding, Leona? Get out!"

"But Claes, dear, surely you don't mean that...."

Claes raised a hand to stop Anette, who was trying to come to my rescue. Without taking his eyes off me, he continued to point toward the door. Everyone sat petrified. I gathered up the report and the other documents and stood up so quickly that my chair skidded back with a sharp scraping sound until it ran into the wall behind me. After I had adjusted my shirt with my free hand I walked around the table on hard high heels toward Claes. He was still standing with his arm pointed at the door as I passed behind him. I flung the door wide open and then slammed it behind me.

CHAPTER 2

Olivia had started shaking. She tried to relax, but couldn't. The rain made everything wet and cold. She itched, too, and her eyes and nose ran. Every time she tried to scratch, it hurt so much it brought tears to her eyes.

She had barely been able to lift the backpack off the floor inside the bank. Once she had it on her back it was fine. But not later, when she needed to take it off. Then she lost her balance and fell right down on the asphalt. The wound on her knee was bleeding and stung much more now than before. The backpack was wet and dirty. She prayed that nothing had broken, because then Daddy would be very angry.

Nothing had been the way Daddy had said. He must have forgotten. Forgotten to tell her that it would be so.... scary.

The black rain cape was wet both inside and out. It clung to her body, like an icy blanket on her skin.

It smelled weird, too. And she kept hearing strange sounds. Lots of people. Sirens. They echoed loudly. Cut into her ears even though she covered them. She had also heard dogs. She loved dogs, but these ones sounded so angry. But now all the sounds were gone.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Leona The Die Is Cast by Jenny Rogneby. Copyright © 2014 Jenny Rogneby. Excerpted by permission of Other Press LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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