فصل 08

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فصل 08

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Chapter eight

Pentti Virolainen’s sister

Munro ran out onto Hameenkatu. He looked to the right and, as he expected, there were a couple of men standing and smoking cigarettes outside the front door of the hotel. Quickly Munro looked to the left. Twenty metres away on the other side of the street, facing away from the hotel, was a grey car: number VEJ 563.

Munro turned back to the right. The men had thrown away their cigarettes and were coming towards him.

‘Quick!’ shouted Munro, in Finnish. ‘Call the police. There’s a serious fight back there.’

The two men started running towards him. Munro didn’t move. The men ran past Munro without looking at him and turned the corner into the car park. It would take them a few seconds to find their friend. Munro did not wait. He ran to the grey car and opened the door. He felt under the seat. The keys were there. Two minutes later he was driving along the road to Helsinki, checking that he really had lost all his followers. When he was sure, he pulled in to the side of the road and sent a short message to London.

THANKS FOR THE CAR

Ruolankatu was a housing development to the southwest of the city centre. Built in the late sixties, there were a number of tall buildings with two or three flats on each floor, set in some pretty woodland. Number 24 was almost at the end of the road and there was a small supermarket on the ground floor.

Munro parked behind the flats and made his way round to the front. He pressed the button by the front door and a voice came out of the speaker next to it.

‘Yes? Who is it?’ said a woman’s voice in Finnish.

‘Ian Munro. From London.’

‘Come up,’ said the voice.

Munro pushed the front door open and climbed the stairs. The door to flat 15B was not open so he knocked quietly on it. For a moment he realised that someone was looking at him through the spy hole and then the door opened, and Munro heard a voice from inside the flat.

‘Come in.’

The flat was very small. Munro walked through a short narrow hall into a small sitting room. There was a sofa, an armchair, and shelves along one wall with books, CDs and a CD player on them. There was a door from the sitting room leading into an even smaller kitchen. In fact, the kitchen was more like a cupboard.

Munro turned to look at the woman who had let him in. She was in her mid-thirties, with shoulder-length red hair, blue-green eyes, and a strong, serious face. She wore a shirt that was the same colour as her eyes, white trousers and flat blue and white shoes. She looked tired and worried.

‘I’m sorry I didn’t come earlier,’ Munro explained. ‘And I’m sorry about the smell, too. I had a little trouble getting here.’

‘That’s OK. I’m just pleased you’re here,’ the woman said in English.

‘We can speak Finnish, if you prefer,’ said Munro in Finnish to show that he had no difficulty with the language.

‘Thank you. That would be easier,’ she said, smiling weakly. ‘Would you like some coffee or something to eat?’

Munro realised that he had eaten nothing since he had woken from a drugged sleep at the hands of Riitta Koivisto that morning. It seemed like days ago. He suddenly felt extremely hungry.

‘Yes. I’d love something to eat,’ he said.

While the woman was in the kitchen, Munro looked round the room. There were books in English and Finnish; the CDs were mainly pop music. There were also family photos - the woman with her parents, a couple of pictures of the parents on their own, and one of a man about the same age as her, perhaps a little older. Munro looked more closely at the photo of the man. It was Pentti Virolainen. The woman looked a little bit like him. They must be brother and sister.

The woman came back into the sitting room with a plate of sandwiches and two cups of coffee. She gave the plate and one of the cups to Munro and then sat down opposite him with the other cup.

Munro spoke: ‘Pentti. Was he your brother?’

‘Yes,’ said the woman. ‘How do you know?’

‘The pictures.’ Munro looked over at the photographs.

The woman put her hands together on her knees and looked straight at Munro.

‘Yes, I’m Sirpa Virolainen, Pentti’s sister. Just before he went to meet you, he told me everything he knew. I think he realised that something might happen to him. I think he realised that they knew about him.’

Munro reached out and put his hand softly on hers.

‘I’m sorry about Pentti,’ he said and took his hand away. ‘Thank you,’ she replied.

‘Please,’ continued Munro. ‘Tell me what he told you.’

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