فصل 09

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فصل 09

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Chapter nine

Answers for Munro

Sirpa Virolainen looked past Munro through the window behind him, getting her thoughts together.

‘You have to understand something about Pentti, you know,’ she began. ‘He was bright. I mean, he didn’t have a great job, he didn’t go to university or anything like that… but he was intelligent. He did well at school, but he just didn’t want to go on studying for the rest of his life.’ Munro sat quietly, watching her, saying nothing. ‘Anyway,’ she continued, ‘he left school at 18 and got a job with a company called Bioratkaisut which had just started…’

‘Bioratkaisut!’ Munro couldn’t stop himself speaking.

‘Yes. Do you know it?’ asked Virolainen.

‘I met someone last night who said she worked there.’

‘What was her name?’ asked Virolainen.

Munro told her but Virolainen shook her head.

‘I haven’t heard of her,’ she said, ‘but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t work there. Pentti and I weren’t very close. I mean, we lived in the same town but we didn’t see each other very often and we never talked about his work really. Except for the other night.’

‘OK,’ said Munro. ‘Anyway, you were saying…’

Yes. He had a job at Bioratkaisut. He was a laboratory assistant. He helped the scientists with their work. Usually he just organised their equipment. But sometimes he actually helped them with their work.’

She stopped for a moment and drank some of her coffee.

‘This woman you met, did she tell you what Bioratkaisut does?’ asked Virolainen suddenly.

‘Not really,’ replied Munro. ‘Something biological.’

‘Yes that’s right,’ said Virolainen. ‘The company is well known in Finland for its soap and things like that. It also produces a famous cream for keeping mosquitoes away.’

Munro smiled. The mosquitoes could be terrible in the north.

‘Well, Pentti began to realise that there was other scientific work going on at Bioratkaisut which was… how can I say… not in the public interest.’

‘I see,’ said Munro. ‘What sort of work? And how did he find out about it?’

‘When he was helping in the laboratory, he could usually understand what the scientists were doing and why. But he realised there were some special areas of work that he was never allowed to help with. At first he thought it was just chance. Then one day one of the scientists left some papers in the laboratory by mistake and Pentti had a look at them.’

Virolainen was speaking more quickly now and her eyes were bright. ‘It was work to develop a special kind of poison gas.’

Munro put his coffee on the table. ‘Go on,’ he said.

Virolainen went on: ‘Well, Pentti then kept his eyes and ears open. He thought there were probably only two or three scientists in the company doing this kind of work. They were certainly developing different types of poison gas, but he thought they were working on other poisons as well.’

‘And nobody else knew about it,’ said Munro.

‘No, nobody’ said Virolainen. ‘And Pentti didn’t know who to tell. He didn’t think the police would do anything. It would be his word against the word of scientists working for one of the most famous companies in Finland. Then a couple of months ago in Lahti there was a big meeting of biologists from all over the world. By chance Pentti met a British biologist in a bar one evening and… well, he didn’t tell him everything but he must have told him enough. Last week someone from London phoned him and asked him to meet you.’

Virolainen stood up and went into the kitchen. She opened a cupboard and took out a box of breakfast cereal. She opened the box, put her hand inside and took out a piece of paper. She put the box back, shut the cupboard door and turned to Munro.

‘He also gave me this,’ she said, passing Munro the piece of paper.

Munro opened the paper and looked at it. Munro was not a scientist, so he had no idea what the writing on the paper meant. However, it was clearly scientific, and probably biological.

‘You said that Pentti thought something might happen to him,’ said Munro.

‘Yes, he thought someone was following him.’

Munro knew the feeling. He looked at the piece of paper again.

‘I’d like to keep this,’ he said, ‘and take it back to London.’

‘OK,’ said Sirpa.

Munro put the paper carefully in an inside pocket of his blue jacket.

‘There is a phone box up the street,’ he said. ‘I’m just going out to make a call and then we’ll decide what to do about you. You can’t stay here.’

Munro saw that Virolainen looked less worried than when he had arrived. Some colour had come back into her cheeks. For the first time Munro realised how pretty Sirpa Virolainen was.

Munro got through to Naylor quickly and explained what Virolainen had told him.

‘I’ve got the paper that Pentti Virolainen left with his sister,’ he said.

‘Good work,’ said Naylor. ‘I want you to fax a copy to me here as soon as possible.’

‘OK,’ said Munro, ‘ but I need to get Virolainen’s sister somewhere safe first.’

‘Right,’ said Naylor.

‘I’ll take her to Helsinki. It’ll take about ninety minutes,’ said Munro.

‘OK,’ said Naylor. ‘Make sure she’s safe. Fax me the paper. And then call. I’ve got a lot of information for you and I’ll have new orders.’

The line went dead.

One of the things Munro liked about working for Naylor was that he never asked unnecessary questions. If Munro said that Virolainen was not safe, Naylor believed him. If Munro felt Helsinki was the best place to take her, that was fine with Naylor. Naylor had information to give Munro but he would wait until Munro was clear.

Back in the flat Munro explained to Sirpa Virolainen that someone might have followed her brother to her flat. It was not a safe place any more. He was going to take her to Helsinki because it was easier to hide in the capital.

Ten minutes later they were driving south on the road to Helsinki.

Five minutes after that Munro looked in the mirror. Two large jeeps were driving up fast behind him and he knew that he was in trouble again.

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