A new twist in thrillers, The Oslo Conspiracy is certain to captivate readers who like their heroes rich, handsome, caring, and very, very sexy.
In The Oslo Conspiracy, a scientist is found dead in a hotel room in Rome. Before she is strangled, she manages to scribble a few words on a piece of paper.
Milo Cavalli is sent to help out with the investigation in Italy, since he is familiar with Italian red tape. Milo finds the note from the scientist, and he also learns that earlier her kid brother had been killed in a schoolyard.
Milo becomes obsessed with finding out if there is a link between the two murders—the sister strangled in Italy and the brother shot in Norway. And he is willing to use his vast fortune and special connections—especially when those connections involve beautiful
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About the Author
ASLE SKREDDERBERGET holds a Masters degree in Business and Finance from the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen and the prestigious Universitá Bocconi in Milan. For several years he held a position as Vice President Corporate Communications in one of the world´s leading chemical companies, working on projects in Europe, the US, Asia, Latin-America, and Africa. He lives in Oslo, with his wife and two kids.
PAUL NORLEN translates fiction from Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. In 2004 he was awarded the American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Prize. He lives with his family in Seattle, Washington.
Read an Excerpt
The Oslo Conspiracy
By Asle Skredderberget, Paul Norlen
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2013 Asle Skredderberget
All rights reserved.
Present Day, Rome
There are two types of people.
Those who start to panic when they know they're going to die. And those who stay calm, as if the very certainty makes their thoughts weighty.
She stood there quietly looking at him and knew it was over. Obviously she could have tried to slam the door, thrown herself toward the bed and tried to call reception. Or run out onto the little balcony and tried to make herself heard over the Rome traffic six stories below.
But she just stood there. Resigned.
For a brief moment it suddenly felt absurd to think he might be dangerous. But deep down she knew. There was something in his eyes.
He stepped soundlessly across the threshold, his body almost springy on the thick hotel carpet, and an odor of cigarettes and sweat reached her nostrils. He quickly took a firm hold around her neck, and she felt a sharp prick below her ear.
He let go, and she shoved him away and staggered toward the bathroom. She locked the door and waited for him to start pulling on it. But outside it was quiet. He had time to wait.
She felt the onset of nausea, and her heart was pounding faster. There were tears in her eyes.
She knew she did not have much time before the anesthetic took effect.
The thought that everything had been in vain cut her in the gut, and she suppressed a "the hell it is." She knew that he would take the PC, the notebook, the flash drives, the phone, and anything else that might reveal what she had been working on the past year. She knew that he was thorough.
From the hotel room she could hear him clear his throat.
She let her eyes sweep across the little bathroom and stopped at the row of medicines on the shelf beside the mirror. For a few seconds, she stood as if frozen. As if the four pill bottles were speaking to her. Quickly she went over to the shelf, pulling out one of the middle bottles. The choice was not random, but she could not count on anyone understanding. For that reason she tore off a little toilet paper and took out her mascara.
She tried to write, but the paper tore and she had to start over. Her heart was hammering as she carefully tried to write his name. It was almost illegible, but it would have to do. She thought for a moment while she tried to blink away the tears. Then she wrote one more word, before folding up the paper and putting it in the bottle.
After that she stepped up into the bathtub and threw the bottle out the air vent. She heard it hit the cobblestone in the courtyard a few seconds later.
Is anyone going to understand? she thought.
In her toiletry case she found the nail clipper and made a few quick scratches in the joint between two of the bathroom tiles under the vent.
She sat down on the tiles and leaned against the bathtub.
The haze came slowly and could not be stopped.
Her heart was beating more slowly and her upper body slid sideways along the bathtub.
She felt no pain when her head pounded hard against the floor.
Milo Cavalli looked out over the gathering.
Besides his fellow officers from Financial Crimes, the group in the room consisted of a unit from the police task force and detectives from the organized crime departmemt with the Oslo police authority. They listened to him attentively. Men with arms crossed and snuff under their upper lips. The detectives in jeans and T-shirts, the task force in uniforms.
Milo adjusted his tie a little, and leaned down toward the laptop. A few seconds later the presentation was up on the wall behind him. The screen showed a grainy image, obviously taken with a telephoto lens, of a dark-skinned man in a suit on his way out of NB's head office at Aker Brygge.
"This is Reeza Hamid. He is twenty-eight years old, and by using a false reference he got a job in the brokerage house NB Markets. He's worked there the past year and a half, but he is actually associated with the so-called Downtown Gang."
The pictures showed the young Pakistani man at various places in the city. He looked fit in a well-tailored dark suit. The prototype of the well-educated, well-integrated second-generation immigrant. Milo stopped at a picture taken outside a Narvesen convenience store, where Hamid was leaning forward as he accepted a light on a cigarette from another Pakistani.
"This is the only picture we have of him together with Anzaf Mukbar, whom you know as the undisputed leader of the Downtown Gang. According to our informants, Mukbar simply calls him the 'Finance Minister,'" said Milo, looking up at the gathering.
Some of the detectives from Organized Crime nodded in recognition, and Milo continued the briefing.
"We've been doing surveillance on Hamid for about six months and, with NB's help over the past month, we can now link him to a dozen insider transactions on the stock market."
The investigation had revealed how the computer-savvy young man, from his position as an accountant in the brokerage firm, had an overview of what plans were in the works for acquisitions and transactions under the auspices of NB Markets, and how he used this information to buy shares in companies he knew would be bought, and how he knew in advance what stocks major funds run by NB planned to buy and thus push the price higher. Milo continued to explain how the investments were made through various companies.
"We're talking in part about companies that run a car wash, a construction company, and a cleaning business. These are all companies that Hamid and the rest of the Downtown Gang are behind, and that take in large amounts of cash from criminal activity. After that they plow the surplus into stock investments, sell out over time and launder millions."
Milo looked at the gathering again. Most of them were familiar with the activity of the various criminal gangs, whether it concerned torpedo activity, narcotics or prostitution. But it struck him that they did not fully understand the scope of what he was now telling them. He straightened up and cleared his throat slightly.
"Just to emphasize: We assume that this group, which consists of a core of between ten and fifteen individuals, has earned more on illegal insider training on the Oslo Stock Exchange the past six months than they have pushing dope and ladies the past year."
The head of the task force, Daniel Guttormsen, rose and came up to the podium beside Milo. Guttormsen was short and broad with a bad haircut.
"Very good, Cavalli. Thanks very much."
Milo nodded curtly and found a vacant chair while Guttormsen proceeded to his part of the presentation. He clicked through pictures of the neighborhood, architectural drawings of the apartment and evacuation routes.
"Now we have the opportunity to crush the Downtown Gang by arresting Reeza Hamid, and we'll make short work of it, lads. We'll go in both from the main entry and the veranda. And then we'll bring him in. We're ready to move out of here as soon as it's confirmed that he's home. Probably about six thirty or seven," he concluded.
The gathering broke up and the participants slipped out of the room.
Milo stayed behind and went over to Guttormsen.
"Where do you want us?"
Guttormsen smiled and patted Milo overly hard on the shoulder.
"You've done a great job. We'll take care of this now. So all you have to do is take off for the weekend."
He packed up his briefcase and started to head for the door after the other broad-shouldered officers.
Milo walked alongside.
"Guttormsen, the reason that Hamid managed to forge the reference from the business school was that he and the gang threatened one of the employees in the school administration. They promised to beat her husband and children senseless if she didn't fix the grades for him. I only want to underscore that even if this guy has a bean counter's brain and a nice suit, he's dangerous," said Milo.
Guttormsen stopped, a broad smile on his face.
"We are too, Cavalli."
* * *
The Lorry restaurant at the far end of Hegdehaugsveien was just as noisily charming as always on a Friday afternoon, and Milo found Frikk in the bar, where he was trying in vain to impress a coed. If it had been one of the usual financial hangers-on, she would have realized from the oversize watch, outrageously expensive suit and swaggering tone of voice that this was a guy with assets she could milk. Fredrik B. Hanefjell, "Frikk" to his friends and enemies because he swallowed his words and talked at breakneck speed, was among the ten most successful stockbrokers in the city and pulled in between ten and fifteen million a year in salary.
But all she saw was one big father complex.
A guy who was a bit too short, talked way too fast, and who was faithful to only one person in the whole world: himself.
She was clearly not letAs agreed on the phone, here is some more informationting herself be dazzled, and Frikk mostly resembled a calf trying to fight its way out of a swamp. With every movement, every bellow, he sank lower. And closer to destruction.
"Hey! Milo!" he said when he caught the eye of his former associate, giving him a firm handshake and a pat on the shoulder.
"You gotta meet Solveig. Law student."
Milo shook her hand and met her gaze. For a few seconds she measured him with her eyes, from the dark, half-length naturally curly hair, to the tailor-made Italian suit and handmade Neapolitan tie to the shiny black shoes. She sighed audibly.
"Why didn't you get here first?" she said with a little smile and a quick glance at Frikk.
Before Milo could answer, she slipped off the bar stool and left them in favor of a girlfriend who had just come into the place.
"Good that you came, Milo. Was startin' to get bored!"
With an experienced finger motion he got the attention of the Swede behind the bar, and a short time later they were each standing with a half liter. They talked absently while constantly checking their cell phones for messages and e-mail. Neither of them was quite ready to leave the workweek behind.
"Make any money today, then?" Milo asked.
"Even in a shitty market, like now, I don't have to work too many hours before I've pulled in what corresponds to your lousy salary."
Milo smiled over the half liter and took a gulp.
"And yet you'll never be as rich as me," he said.
Milo could not contain himself, and Frikk turned sulky. Like so many of his colleagues in the financial industry, Frikk was merciless in his characterization of competitors and colleagues, but lacked self-irony. And if there was anything he didn't like, it was being reminded that others were richer than him. Because the milestone for success in the industry was the size of your fortune, and Milo knew that it was even more frustrating for Frikk not to be able to overtake an underpaid Financial Crimes investigator who lived on an endlessly growing family fortune from Italy.
"Just kidding, Frikk. Relax. You're plenty rich and smart."
"Just shut up."
They were waved over to a booth with various stockbrokers and analysts who had also strayed from the wine bars on Tjuvholmen, and Milo sat absentmindedly while he checked his cell phone regularly. It was approaching six thirty, and he could not keep from thinking about the arrest. He bitterly regretted that he hadn't insisted on going with Guttormsen and the force, and wondered whether there was still time. He signaled to Frikk that he was going out to take a call, and sent a text message to Guttormsen on his way toward the exit.
Outside, the sun had long since disappeared and a cold draft in the air reminded the Friday crowd that winter was on its way.
It suddenly occurred to Milo that he was only a few blocks from Reeza Hamid's apartment, and he started walking up Hegdehaugsveien. There was a beep on his phone.
THE OBJECT JUST CAME HOME. WILL HAVE HIM SOON. 5 MIN. RELAX.
Milo could picture Guttormsen sitting in the operations vehicle, guiding his force as he had done hundreds of times before. But Milo was unable to do as he'd been told.
He was unable to relax.
Not until he's in handcuffs, he thought.
If Hamid got away today and realized that he was in hot water, he would destroy all the evidence and lay low for the next year. Months of investigations would be wasted, and the Downtown Gang would take even more precautions and be even more difficult to nail.
Milo stopped twenty meters outside the courtyard to Hamid's building, on the other side of the street, and quickly looked around. Not a task force member in sight, but that was also the point.
With his eyes fixed on the building, he suddenly became aware of something moving on the roof. He had a brief glimpse of a dark figure on a balcony, and Milo noticed that a roof window was open. A passerby bumped him without stopping and therefore did not hear the little "scusa" that automatically came out of Milo.
He moved closer to the building, making a rapid zigzag between young people with backpacks and shopping bags. He looked up toward the building again and had a better view now. This time there was no doubt. A man was in the process of creeping from a loft balcony over toward the roof terrace on the neighboring building.
And it was not a policeman.
Milo did not want to lose sight of him and called Guttormsen. It rang only once before going to voice mail.
Guttormsen had declined the call.
"This is Milo, I've just seen a male on the roof in the vicinity of Hamid's apartment, and I doubt that it was one of your people. I'll follow him," an irritated Milo spoke into the phone and hung up.
He remained standing next to the building façade and followed the figure with his eyes. He had worked his way over onto the roof terrace, after which he disappeared from sight. Milo fixed his gaze on the entry, and a minute later Reeza Hamid walked out onto Hegdehaugsveien from the exit door in a building fifteen meters from his own entry.
He started walking toward the city center, and Milo did the same. Between them the trolley, scooters and taxis were racing. Milo had still not made contact with Guttormsen on the cell phone, and when he saw Hamid starting to cross the street at Parkveien, he decided.
Milo was on the other side of the street, and remained standing at the crosswalk with the phone against his ear, pretending he was talking. He looked like the perfect financial analyst, not a detective doing surveillance.
Hamid approached and looked around a little nervously, but his gait was determined. He looked strong and fit, and Milo knew that he would have to surprise him to have any chance at all of holding him until the task force arrived. He waited until Hamid was a couple of meters away.
"I'll ask a guy here, wait a moment," said Milo loudly and artificially into the phone and took a step toward Hamid, who automatically slowed down.
"Do you know if Industrigata is farther up this way?" he asked with his eyes directed at Hamid, but still with the phone to his ear.
Hamid stopped a moment.
"Uh, I think you have to go farther —"
While he spoke, Milo raised the elbow on the arm he was holding the phone with, and swung it with all his force at Hamid. His elbow struck him in the temple and pushed him off balance, but not enough to knock him to the ground. Quickly Milo threw himself against him, pulling his torso with him so that the muscled man lost his balance with his weight on only one foot. Milo made a quick leg takedown, Hamid fell to the asphalt and Milo crouched down by his side and put a control hold on his arm and wrist.
Reeza Hamid moaned in pain, but not nearly as much as Milo had expected. He realized that this body must have taken in a few ampoules of steroids, and Milo sat on his back while he maintained the control hold. He was about to fish his cell phone out again when he felt himself being seized under the arms and raised backward, ending up on his back on the asphalt. Suddenly a man was straddling him, holding his wrists while another tried to hold his legs.
In the corner of his eye he saw Hamid get up and rush off like a sprinter from the starting block.
"You don't attack people on the street like that!" the man sitting on him shouted.
He was in his thirties, dressed like a student, and Milo smelled alcohol on his breath.
"I'm a police officer!" he hissed, but instead of letting go, that seemed to irritate the other man even more.
"Fucking racist pig!" he shouted.
Milo felt the aggression explode and kicked at him, pushed him away and got on his feet. Hamid now had a head start of at least a hundred meters.
Milo caught sight of a community bike that had fallen down on the sidewalk.
"Is this yours?" he asked the man who had been sitting on him.
He got a nod in response and jumped onto the bike. Far up the street he saw Hamid round the corner and disappear down Pilestredet. Milo pedaled as fast as he could, closing the gap.
On Pilestredet he saw Hamid hail a taxi, which quickly started moving. Milo was only thirty meters behind, but the distance was increasing now. He pedaled like crazy.
The taxi drove toward Ring 1. Milo crossed the trolley tracks and sidewalk, cutting through students on their way to and from the high school. For a moment he considered stopping and calling Guttormsen, but then the taxi would be gone for good. He had one more hope left: the roadwork that was always going on in central Oslo.
Excerpted from The Oslo Conspiracy by Asle Skredderberget, Paul Norlen. Copyright © 2013 Asle Skredderberget. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
AN OKAY, FAST READ! There are several hints as to this compact little multi-mystery having a foreign origin: the author’s 14-letter last name, the “translated by” designation on a fly leaf, main characters who are foreign, plus a story-line with lots of foreign locals. For me, though, the main tell was how many of the characters smoked and how one, in particular, was always “dipping into a snuffbox and tucking pouches” under his upper lip. The book deals with murders, kidnapping, street gangs, Mafia, drugs (legal and illegal), as well as a mysterious explosion of an Italian military ship that left only one momentarily-amnesiac survivor. Interspersed are intricacies of the main protagonist’s dysfunctional family, adultery, a child born out of wedlock, even a couple of menage-a-trois (of sorts). All of which managed pretty much to keep my interest until the book's conclusion. Not the best of this genre I’ve read, but neither did I find it one of the worst, either.