Today's Reading

She toyed with her whiskey glass, took a sip, and then announced, "Yousef Ahmed."

I nodded.

"You know who he is?" she asked.

"Yes, as I don't live under a stone."

"I've taken him on as a client. We intend to appeal."

My eyebrows rose. "Appeal what? The case is over, Leila. The man has been convicted."

She looked me in the eyes, straight, focused, and clear. "I don't think he did it."

"Well, skat, they're all innocent, except they're not," I provoked her by calling her darling'.'

The irony of the Danish language is that 'skat' also means "tax," very apropos.

She didn't take the bait. "He didn't do it."

"A jury found him guilty. There's nothing left to do except work on an early release," I retorted. "Which I don't see happening."

"I was in London when the trial took place and I couldn't help him then." Her voice was a hoarse whisper. She was affected. "But I intend to help him now."

"How?" I was baffled.

Leila took a deep breath. "I need you to investigate this."

"This? As in the murder of Sanne Melgaard?"


I didn't want to once again say that such an investigation was pointless so I went another route. "Okay. What if I find out he did it?"

She raised her hands, palms up. "Then that's that."

She finished her drink, set the empty glass on the table, and waved at the waiter. "Why are you doing this?" I asked. "Why even take him on?"

"I know...knew his son," Leila explained. "I know the family. It's been devastating for them."
I didn't know what to say, so I shut up. I had never gone wrong shutting up.

Someone called out to an Andreas, who was apparently a son of a bitch, followed by a string of obscenities and drunken laughter.

The waiter came back with a fresh drink and took Leila's empty glass away. He looked at me pointedly and I shook my head. If I drank any more, I wouldn't be able to bicycle home—this was my third and final drink of the evening. Leila, as always, held her liquor better than I did.

"If you knew him, you'd know he couldn't have killed Sanne Melgaard. He's not that man. And I don't give a shit who says what about him. It's like Muslim man plus angry equals murderer," she hissed, and I recognized the fire in her that had drawn me to her.

Leila was a passionate woman. When she believed in something, she went all out. For a short time there, she'd believed in us.

"My law firm will pay you."

"I wasn't planning to do this for free, if I was planning to do it."

"And are you planning to do it?" she asked.

"There's a good chance of that happening," I offered, and she smiled, as I wanted her to. Even after a decade, I still wanted to make her happy, I realized, more than a little disturbed by that thought.

"You can talk to your police friends, just make sure they did everything the way it was supposed to be done," she pleaded.

"You know I don't have many police friends." When you ratted out the national chief of police, your former colleagues tended to feel sore about you.

"Meet his daughter," Leila suggested. "She was thirteen when they took him away. She's Sophie's age."

Which made her about eighteen now. Sophie, my daughter, had just turned twenty. Leila certainly had the violins out for this one.

"I can bring her to your office next week. Just meet her and...," Leila faltered.

I raised a hand. "I'll do it. I mean, I'll meet her. I'm saying yes, I'll look into the case."

"Really? Why?"

"Because you asked me to," I said truthfully.

This excerpt ends on page 13 of the paperback edition.

Monday we begin the book The Secrets of Hartwood Hall by Katie Lumsden.

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