فصل 05

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فصل 05

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Chapter five

Being followed

Mobile phones were useful but Munro didn’t like them. Although it was generally considered impossible to listen in to a conversation on a mobile phone, Munro was not so sure. Finland was the home of Nokia. If anyone could listen in to a conversation, the Finns could. Munro just used his mobile for short text messages that other people would not be able to understand. For a safe line, Munro would need something different. Surprisingly, public phone boxes were the safest. He went out of the hotel onto Aleksanterinkatu to find one.

As he walked along the street, he could hear bits of the conversations around him.

‘Shot on the church steps.’

‘A terrible thing to happen.’

‘Are we going to be safe on the streets any longer?’

‘Nothing like that has happened before.’

‘In the daytime, too.’

‘Virolainen. Yes. Such a kind man. My cousin knew him well.’

‘This is usually such a safe town.’

‘What is happening in the world today?’

The death of Pentti Virolainen had shaken the people of Lahti. It was a small town of only about 95,000 people. Like almost all the small towns of Finland, it was a safe place. Both adults and children could walk or cycle the streets without danger, at almost any hour of the day or night. But today people seemed worried, afraid even. Their safe world had broken into pieces. Munro felt sorry for them.

He found a phone box. Naylor answered at the first ring.

‘Give me the complete picture,’ said Naylor.

Munro told him about Virolainen’s death and then went on: ‘I’d like you to check on a woman called Riitta Koivisto.’ Munro spelled the name.

‘Who’s she?’ asked Naylor.

‘I don’t know,’ said Munro. ‘She says she works for a company called Bioratkaisut and lives in Nastola. I’d be interested to know how much of that is true. She searched my room last night.’

‘I see,’ said Naylor. ‘Describe her.’

‘About 170 centimetres tall. Slim. Good-looking. Short blonde hair. Blue eyes. Intelligent, but good at giving the appearance of not being very intelligent.’

‘I’ll check on her and let you know if I find out anything,’ said Naylor.

‘Thanks.’

‘OK,’ Naylor went on. ‘We’ve had some difficulty finding a way back to Virolainen’s information. However, I now have an address for you. Ruolankatu 24, Flat 15B.’

Munro repeated the address back to Naylor.

Naylor said nothing for a moment as if searching for the right words. Then he spoke: ‘These people are very dangerous, Munro. They’ve killed one person already. They could kill again. Be careful with this address. It may be our last chance.’

Munro put the phone down, then immediately picked it up again and called the hotel.

‘Hotel Lahden Seurahuone,’ said a voice.

Munro put the phone down. After a ‘safe’ call, it was important to make another call immediately. If you didn’t, anyone could ring the last number to find out who you had called.

Munro decided that it would be a good time to have a look at the market place. Before he went to the address at Ruolankatu, he needed to be sure he wasn’t being followed. This was more important now than ever before. The market would be a good place to find out if there was anyone behind him.

Munro had not even gone a hundred metres when he saw the first: a man in a dark green jacket. When Munro looked at him, the man suddenly found something in a bookshop window of great interest. Getting away from one person should be quite easy, even in a place as small as Lahti. However, there might be more than one person following him.

Within ten minutes, Munro knew there were more. He took his time looking in shop windows, reading restaurant menus, playing the tourist. He did not go straight down to the Kauppatori but decided to walk around the streets, taking his time, enjoying the sunshine. Twenty minutes later he crossed Aleksanterinkatu towards the market. It was Saturday and the market was busy. Munro moved around looking at everything, changing direction, going back the way he had come, making it difficult for his followers to know exactly where he was going. A couple of times he started to leave the market, but then he seemed to see something which made him turn round and go back for another look.

He now realised the size of his problem. First of all, he was in a box of eight: three men in front at any one time, three behind and one on either side. Secondly his followers were not just on foot. At the west side of the Kauppatori was a line of taxis. Munro had walked up to the first taxi, found out that the taxi driver spoke English and asked the way to the Sibeliustalo, the concert hall near Lake Vesijarvi. As he got near the taxi, he saw two cars stop suddenly and at least two of the followers hurry towards them. He thanked the taxi driver and set off on foot towards the Sibeliustalo. As he did so, one of the followers went over to the taxi and started talking to the driver.

On another day, at another time, Munro would have enjoyed the walk to Sibeliustalo. Today his mind was so full of all kinds of thoughts and plans that he almost missed the entrance to Kariniemi Park. Munro had forgotten what the hard Finnish winter did to the countryside. The snow had gone now but much of the land was still a light brown colour. Only in a few places was the bright green of spring starting to show. Munro was pleased he was here now and not a few months ago when the temperatures were often down to -30 Celsius. Even so, the lake was still frozen after the winter. Munro walked round to the right, along the side of the lake towards the Sibeliustalo and a couple of cafes. The followers came with him, some in front, some behind.

Munro bought a beer and sat at a table in the sunshine looking north to Vaaksy. You could go by boat from Lahti to Vaaksy, and then to Lake Paijanne, the longest lake in Finland, and finally all the way to Jyvaskyla. He drank his beer and thought about the problem. He did not know who was waiting to meet him at Ruolankatu but if anyone followed him there, it was sure to mean death for both him and anyone he might meet. The followers had not killed him yet because they did not know who he was meeting. He needed to get away from them. Quickly.

He made a plan. There was a phone box near the cafe and he needed Naylor’s help. He called London.

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