Fatal Headwind
her might be easier than the others. Of course I knew that the group of them had had plenty of time before the police arrived to agree what they would say.
    We went into the same room where Iida and Antti and I had stayed six weeks earlier. Then the sea had been blue glinting in the sun, but now it hissed, angry and gray. The beds were carefully made, but in the corner there were a suitcase and a backpack, and on the table were a couple of books and bottles of organic cosmetics.
    “Tell me why you came here this weekend.”
    “Yesterday was Mom’s birthday. Dad wanted us to celebrate it here. Jiri didn’t want to come, but Dad talked him into it, probably by blackmailing him with those fines. Tapio is here because he’s part of the family these days. Mikke was going to sail by Föglö to take his mom home and then head south.”
    I didn’t know where Föglö was, but I would find out. I remembered Mikke Sjöberg saying in August that he was planning to sail to Africa by way of Madeira this winter.
    “And who is this Seija Saarela?”
    “Seija is Mikke’s friend, and my mom’s too. I guess Seija is mostly here to say good-bye to Mikke before he leaves on his trip.”
    That was interesting, but I moved on to ask about the previous day’s events. The motorboat party with the Merivaaras and Tapio Holma had arrived on Rödskär around noon. The Sjöbergs and Seija Saarela had come in around three on the Leanda . Once everyone arrived, they had afternoon tea; trips to the sauna and dinner preparations began soon after. By eight everyone had bathed and the group gathered for the party in the kitchen.
    “Dad made a speech about Mom, even though forty-five isn’t any special age. We ate and drank. Mom, Jiri, Seija and I had vegetarian like always, and the others had grilled whitefish. Then came the carob cake with tofu cream, which even Jiri will eat. Sometime around eleven, Mom started getting tired and said she was going to sleep. Then I think Jiri disappeared too. He was in a bad mood like he always is at family parties.”
    I asked what the sleeping arrangements had been. Anne and Juha Merivaara had slept in the room where I had just interviewed Anne. Seija and Katrina had been in the room where we were sitting now, and Mikke was sharing the next room with Jiri. Tapio and Riikka were sleeping in the east room. There weren’t any other rooms on Rödskär at the moment, since the northeast building was still being renovated.
    “I don’t know anything more, because Tapio and I went to sleep next, a little after twelve.”
    “How much did your father drink?”
    “Aperitifs, wine, and some whiskey with the cake, but that’s what he always has. He’s a big guy, so he doesn’t get drunk easily.” Riikka’s brow furrowed as she realized she had used the present tense. I waited for the tears, but they didn’t come.
    Finally I asked whether anything strange had happened during the evening. Riikka said no, but after she stood up she added, “Every now and then I got the feeling that something wasn’t right. Dad and Mom and Mikke were tense for some reason, even though they were trying hard to act like a normal family having a party.”
    Apparently there had been no mention that it was the anniversary of Harri’s death. Still it was strange that Riikka didn’t bring that up, since it had happened on her mother’s previous birthday.
    Next I called in Tapio Holma, who hugged Riikka at the door.
    “Your mother wants you,” he said.
    Holma said the same things as Riikka, except that he thought everyone had seemed happy and that the night had been perfectly pleasant.
    “Just the usual grumbling from Jiri about eating our brother fish. That boy really has no idea how to enjoy life.”
    After Tapio it was Seija Saarela’s turn. She was a forty-nine-year-old unemployed construction drafter who lived in Espoo. With her flowing batik clothing, gray hair tied in a topknot, big earrings, and lots of natural stone rings, I

Similar Books

Tempting Taylor

Beverly Havlir

Monsieur Jonquelle

Melville Davisson Post

Dreamrider

Barry Jonsberg

08 - The Girl Who Cried Monster

R.L. Stine - (ebook by Undead)

The Huntsmen

Honor James

Sharpe 18 - Sharpe's Siege

Bernard Cornwell