Saturday, November 16, 2019

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Murder? by Christer Tholin - Book Tour + Giveaway


Murder?
Stockholm Sleuth Series Book 3
by Christer Tholin
Genre: Mystery Crime Thriller


Christina’s idyllic existence with her husband Patrik comes to an abrupt end when Patrik suddenly vanishes from their suburban home in Stockholm. Christina is precipitated into a hellishly desperate and anguished search for Patrik – which after six weeks turns up nary a trace of him.

At her wits end, she contacts local sleuths Lars and Elin, who, after a brief investigation, reach the conclusion that Patrik simply decided to abandon his cushy existence to embark on a new life –without Christina.

Lars and Elin ultimately trace Patrik’s movements to the wooded wilds of northern Sweden, but too late – he’s found dead. The police rule his death an accident, but Christina thinks otherwise – and so she asks Lars and Elin to do a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding Patrik’s demise. Was his death really accidental, or was foul play involved? And was the mysterious Natalia somehow implicated?

Unfortunately, none of the countless leads that Lars and Elin follow up gets them any closer to solving the mystery of Patrik’s death. But then they get a startling break that results in Christina having to make a tricky and extremely consequential decision that plunges our three protagonists into a life or death struggle.

MURDER? is the third, standalone book from Christer Tholin’s Stockholm Sleuth Series.
If you like fast-paced action and surprising twists and turns, then you will love Christer Tholin's sleuth series. 

**Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited! 

July 2016

Her hand felt so good in his. He was always amazed how soft and delicate her hands were. He was entranced, watching her run along beside him. She was the very picture of loveliness, with her thick blond hair, green eyes and high cheekbones. But this morning he’d had the impression that something was bothering her. She’d disappeared into the bathroom right after breakfast and hadn’t been the same since – somehow not as happy and lively as usual. He’d asked her what was going on, but she’d said, “No, nothing, I’m fine.”
He was simply crazy about her. He’d never imagined that such a gorgeous young woman could ever be interested in him, much less fall for him. And now here they were beginning a new life together; sometimes he felt like he was dreaming. During the three days since they’d moved into the cabin, the harmony between them had been simply idyllic. And the sex was amazing too – just the love-making he’d been craving, a craving she knew exactly how to slake.
They were approaching the end of the forest path – and the highlight of the walk. The path led to the site of a landslide that had occurred a few years back. The landslide had created a long steep downhill slope that afforded a magnificent view of a large forest meadow dotted with rocks and bushes – and oftentimes animals, which took no notice if you stood there watching them. During a walk they’d taken here a couple of days ago they’d spotted reindeer, which she’d been very excited about as she had never seen a reindeer in the wild.
At the end of the slope they stopped, and he turned toward her. She was staring over the edge of the steep cliff, but she wasn’t as radiant today as she’d been during their previous walk.
“Is anything the matter? Did I say something wrong?”
“No, no, nothing like that...I really don’t know.” She let go of his hand, took a step away from him, and gazed at him. What did the look in her eyes mean? He couldn’t tell for sure. He saw a lot of sadness there, but also anxiety. She averted her gaze. What was eating her?
As he was about to again ask her what the matter was, he became aware of a movement behind him. He figured it must be an animal and turned around. A huge muscular man was heading straight for him, causing him to stagger backward. He stepped sideways, into what he realized too late was an abyss. He lost his balance and the last thing he heard was Natalia screaming. His hand clawed the air, as he plummeted downward, almost head first. He managed to grab onto a bush whose thorns dug into his hand; but the bush was too small to break his fall. The branch he’d grabbed broke, and he continued falling.
His last thought before crashing into the ground below was of Natalia.
Part I

August 2016

1


Liv opened the large front door.
“Hi, Christina, great to see you. Come on in,” she said.
“Hej! Nice to see you too. Your place is really awesome,” Christina said, looking around in wonderment.
Liv gave her former coworker a furtive look. “Something’s not right,” she thought to herself. “Those rings under her eyes, she looks so tired, and kind of down.” Liv couldn’t remember Christina ever looking this way before.
But Liv kept all this to herself. “Yeah, well, I inherited all this from my folks,” she said, laughing. Frankly, she felt embarrassed to be living in such resplendent surroundings. The house, which was located in a housing tract in the Stockholm archipelago, had its own beach and a large docking pier where a huge motorboat was docked.
“It’s really a shame that we spend so little time here; most of the time it just stands empty. But I must say it’s great to have a vacation home near Stockholm.” This was the first occasion Liv had been here since January, when she’d moved to Berlin with her kids.
Hej, Christina. I’m Martin. Nice to meet you,” Martin said as he emerged from the bedroom.
“Hi Martin. You speak really good Swedish.”
“Yeah well, I’m getting there. Though I often have to ask if I’m using the right word.” Martin was German, but he’d been attending Swedish classes ever since he and Liv had gotten together. Plus, they spoke Swedish at home more and more.
Suddenly three kids came barreling into the house from the back yard.
“Here come the offspring,” Liv said. “How about giving Christina a nice hello? This is my oldest, Saga, and her brother Hampus. Saga’s 11 and Hampus is almost nine.” The two children shook Christina’s hand. Behind them was a little girl who was looking on anxiously.
“And that’s Martin’s daughter Lara. She’s five and isn’t fluent in Swedish yet, but she understands just about everything.” Laughing shyly, Lara shook hands with Christina.
“Kids, do you want to have coffee with us, or would you rather have ice cream?” said Liv.
“Ice cream, ice cream!” the kids shouted in unison.
“Okay great, so go get yourselves an ice cream from the freezer, which we pretty much filled to the brim yesterday.” The ice cream truck from Hemglass made its weekly rounds on the neighboring island, and yesterday they’d waited for it to come by. The kids ran into the kitchen, jostling each other.
“The veranda’s the best place for a quiet conversation, so let’s go out there, shall we?” Liv led Christina through the large living room to the terrace door, which opened out onto a magnificent view. The property sloped down gently to the water, with expanses dotted with large rocks, and bordered by pine and oak trees – and as a backdrop to all this, an unimpeded and stunning view of the sea. The water glistened in the sun; the islands, with their trees and meadows, were bathed in a green, luminescent glow; and scattered around this idyllic scene were houses, most of them painted red, and a few boats sailing past.
“What an awesome view. It doesn’t get much better than this.” For all Christina’s apparent excitement at taking all this in, Liv couldn’t help but notice, once again, the fatigue her friend exuded, and her drooping shoulders.
“Yeah, we never get tired of it,” Martin said. “It’s really great for me, as this is the first time I’ve been here. When I took a cruise through our archipelago last year, I couldn’t have imagined that one day I’d be spending my vacation in a house like this one.”
Liv recalled that back then, Martin had come to Stockholm in the hope of finding her. They’d originally met in southern Sweden, where Martin had rented a vacation home. They’d arranged to meet up again, but then Liv had been kidnapped – an event that had plunged Martin into a state of extreme distress. He’d found out that Liv was living in Stockholm with her family and had decided to go there to find her. Which he’d eventually managed to do, with the aid of two private detectives. But this was by no means the end of the story.
The three of them sat down on the veranda, where there was a large wooden table under a pergola, and around which comfortable, thickly upholstered lawn chairs were arrayed. Martin served the coffee, while Liv cut the cake that she’d baked in the morning with Saga and Lara. As they drank coffee and ate the delicious cake, they chatted about the weather and their vacation plans.
“Did you go on vacation?” Liv asked.
"No.” Christina said, shaking her head sadly. “I’m not much in the mood for a vacation, to tell you the truth. Actually, my husband has gone missing. Which is why I wanted to see you.”
She was fighting back tears, and Liv stroked her arm soothingly. “I was right,” she thought to herself. “Something really is wrong.”
She looked over at Martin, and their eyes met: yes, they were familiar with such problems.
“So, tell me,” Liv said gently.
Christina cleared her throat. “Five weeks ago, he just vanished without warning. It was a Friday and he’d gone to work as usual, but he never came home. I called him a zillion times, but it just kept going to voicemail. The next day I filed a missing person’s report with the police – who haven’t done a damn thing about it. I’m at my wit’s end, that’s the long and the short of it.”
“Did he show up at work that day?” Martin asked.
“Yes, he was, though he left work pretty early, but there was nothing unusual about that, as it was a Friday.”
“And why aren’t the police trying to find him?” said Liv.
“They say there’s no evidence of foul play or an accident. They think that Patrik just decided to disappear. They told me I need to just wait, and that in most cases people who’ve ‘gone missing’ eventually turn up safe and sound.”
“What makes them think that?” Martin asked.
“Well, it’s because Patrik took his passport and all his credit cards with him. Plus, his car hasn’t been spotted anywhere.”
“I see.”
“So why did you want to see us?” Liv asked.
“Yes, well, maybe I’m wrong but rumors have been circulating at the company about what happened last year – I mean before you sold the construction business. Cause let’s face it, your ex died under kind of mysterious circumstances and people have been saying that there was some kind of kidnapping. There wasn’t much about it in the papers, but didn’t some private eye or other help you?”
“Yes, that’s true. It’s a long story. We’ve been trying to keep a lid on all this as much as possible, and that’s been going quite well.”
“I see. Of course you’re under no obligation to disclose any of this to me either. But please know that if you do take me into your confidence, your secrets will be safe with me.”
“I have total faith in you on that score. After all, you handle confidential information at the company all the time.” Christina was the human resources manager at Liv’s property management company. And though Liv was no longer involved in the company’s day to day operation–having having hired a COO and resigned from the board, she’d been working alongside Liv until the end of last year and knew that she could always count on Christina to maintain confidentiality.
“The whole thing has since blown over, but as I’m sure you can understand we don’t want the media, or anyone else for that matter, to get wind of this. So, what you surmise is in fact true, but of course you need to keep it to yourself. Last year I was kidnapped, and then Saga was taken as well. Thank God for Martin, though, because if it hadn’t been for him, I probably wouldn’t have come through this ordeal safe and sound. He also hired the private detectives who ultimately got to the bottom of all this.”
Christina gave Liv a look of consternation. “Wow, two kidnappings. That must have been horrible. Were you harmed or hurt in any way?”
“No, as I said, we both came through it in one piece. But Saga is still haunted by it. She has nightmares all the time and doesn’t like being left alone. But I must say the move to Berlin has done her a world of good. Being in a new place, a new school, and so on is helping her to put the whole thing behind her. We were kind of concerned about how she’d react to coming back to Sweden for vacation, but she’s been absolutely fine – at least thus far.”
“I’m glad to hear that everything’s worked out so well,” Christina said.
“Yeah, we really love Berlin, the two little ones speak perfect German and Martin and I get along really well – like two peas in a pod, actually,” Liv said, taking Martin’s hand and gazing at him lovingly.
“Yes, all the upheaval was worth it in the end,” he said with a sly smile.
Liv turned back towards Christina: “I cannot recommend those two detectives we used highly enough. They’re really good. Trustworthy, easy to work with – and they really get things done.”
“Wow, it would be awesome if they could help me out too,” Christina said, once again fighting back tears.
“Really, you needn’t worry. You’ll see, everything will work out fine in the end.”
“Could you give me their number?”
“I think it would be better if I called them and gave them your number instead,” Martin said. “They work for an agency that employs a number of detectives, and you want to be sure that the two we worked with are assigned to your case. Besides, they’ll already know what the case is all about, and that’ll make it easier for me to introduce you to them. In any case I’d intended to contact Lars while we’re here.”
“Thanks, that’s really nice of you. I wanted to avoid hiring just any old detective. It’s much better when someone is recommended to you that others have had a positive experience with.”
“Yes of course. And really, Lars and Elin are terrific. You can’t go wrong with them,” said Liv. “So tell me, Christina, do you have any idea what might have happened to your husband?”
“No,” she said with a despairing look. “I just keep racking my brains, trying to fathom what might have happened. The whole thing makes no sense. Everything was peachy keen between us, I swear. We were planning to go to our summer home in Norrland in July. When he disappeared, and I was unable to reach him, I even went to Norrland to see if he might have gone there. But that was stupid of me, because of course he wasn’t there. Though I had the impression that he might have been there for a little while.”
“What makes you say that?” Martin asked.
“Well as you know, you have to pack everything away in the fall in order to close up a summer cabin for the winter. And some of the furnishings looked to me as though they’d been used recently. Or at least I had the impression that the cabin wasn’t exactly as we’d left it.”
“That’s an important detail. The sort of thing you absolutely must tell the detectives.”
“Yes, I will, of course. I’m sincerely grateful to both of you. Please tell them to contact me as soon as possible. But now I need to go, otherwise I’ll miss the last ferry.”
Having raised from the chairs Liv and Martin accompanied Christina to the door and said goodbye. They observed how she got into her car and drove down to the street.
“Poor Christina,” sighed Liv, after Christina had left. “I really feel for her. It’s a good thing I got Saga back after only a few days. I never would have been able to survive her being gone for five whole weeks.”
“But look, Christina’s husband is an adult – though the not knowing is a killer, that’s for sure.”
“Do you think he might simply have left her?”
“Hard to say. Though let’s face it, she’s no Miss Sweden.
“Really?” Liz shrieked, rolling her eyes, “You think he left her just ‘cause she’s a bit plump? But she always dresses really well, plus she’s a super nice person.”
“Yeah, but you only know her in her capacity as an HR manager, which perhaps isn’t the most objective basis for judging someone.”
“Yeah, maybe not. But by the same token, you can’t just judge a book by its cover, you have to try to see what’s inside.”
“Yeah, and maybe she’s a veritable tornado in bed,” said Martin, laughing.
“Men,” she snorted. “All you care about is physical appearance and sex.”
“You know exactly what we’re like. But fortunately, you fulfill all my wishes on both of these things.”
“Thank God for that,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
But then she put her arms around him and gave him a tender kiss.
“When are you going to call Lars?”
“In a minute. I hope he’s not away on vacation. It’s August and it’s not back to school time yet.”
“I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”

Liv went out on the terrace to clear the table. She was more upset by the conversation than she cared to admit. These things belonged, after all, to the recent past, and it didn’t take much to revive the memories of events that had occurred only last year. She and Martin had often talked about whether it was advisable for them to return to Sweden this year, as they both feared that doing so would reopen old wounds, especially for Saga. But Hampus really wanted to go so that he could water-ski and swim every day. So, they’d decided to take the risk, and everything had been hunky dory, thus far. Liv had in fact gone to Stockholm a couple of times in recent months, as her presence at board meetings was required. But she was always happy to come back home to Berlin, and to Martin. And actually, here in the archipelago with her family, she’d hardly given last year’s kidnappings a thought. That is, until the conversation of this evening. Now all of a sudden, the memories and emotions came flooding back, particularly her anxiety about Saga. She thought about how incredibly relieved she’d been to be able to hug Saga again. She was beginning to cry; she needed to pull herself together. She decided the best thing to do was to see how the kids were doing; she needed to feel their physical presence.

Secrets?
Stockholm Sleuth Series Book 2


"Dammit! She’d made a huge mistake. She’d never make it out of here - they were going to kill her."

In the crime novella SECRETS?, fledgling private investigator Elin Bohlander takes on what looks like an easy assignment — at first: to determine if her client’s boyfriend is having an affair with another woman. To do this, Elin follows him to a secluded cabin in the woods, where she soon discovers that what’s actually transpiring is stranger than anyone thought. Having ventured too far, she’s stumbled upon a hornet’s nest and put her life at risk. But it’s too late. Can Elin win the unequal fight against a gang of brutal child molesters?

SECRETS? is the second, standalone book from Christer Tholin’s Stockholm Sleuth Series. In the previous novel VANISHED?, Elin and her colleague Lars solve their first case together. 

If you like fast-paced action and surprising twists and turns, then you will love Christer Tholin's sleuth series.

**Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited!




Vanished?
Stockholm Sleuth Series Book 1


“He could only hope he’d get out of here in one piece.”

To come to terms with his recent divorce, Martin, an attorney in Berlin, plans a peaceful vacation – two weeks in a Swedish summer house seem to be the solution. It won’t be peaceful, however, and those two weeks will change his life forever. He takes a liking to Liv, a Swedish woman whom he meets in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, they don’t get to have their first date – Liv disappears under mysterious circumstances. Martin begins his search but soon realizes he can’t find Liv in a foreign country by himself. He hires two private investigators, and their discoveries make everything seem even stranger. 

The complexities in this suspenseful criminal case lead to a hunt across Sweden. Martin comes close to finding answers, but his search lands him in very real danger, eventually leading to the first deaths. Soon he‘s wondering if he can get Liv and himself out of this situation alive. 

**Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited!


Christer Tholin grew up in the North of Germany, Schleswig-Holstein. Today, he lives together with his family in Stockholm, Sweden, where he works as a management consultant.

Already for ages he has been a great fan of crime stories and therefore, had the desire to write his own crime story with the characters acting in Sweden. This crime-fiction is now available under the title "Vanished?". 

The crime novel starts at a slower pace - like Martin's holidays, but the tension goes up more and more. It comes to a number of surprising turns giving new impulses to the story. Apart from that, the lovely country Sweden is described with the view of a foreigner. 



$20 Amazon
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2 comments:

  1. I like the question marks on the covers. Congrats on the release.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sounds like a very interesting book.

    ReplyDelete