Hello and happy Sunday. Today I have a promo for the book Kult by Stefan Malmstrom which is based on true events.
THE PAST WILL NEVER LET YOU GO…
When a four-year-old girl and her father are found dead in the Swedish city of Karlskrona, the police quickly conclude it was a murder-suicide, a tragedy requiring no further investigation.
But Luke Bergmann, a reformed criminal still haunted by his violent past, believes they are wrong. The dead man, Viktor, was his best friend, and Luke knows he would never commit such a horrific crime.
When more bodies turn up, Luke is certain the same killer has struck again. Alone, he embarks on an investigation which reaches back through decades to his friend’s involvement with a sinister cult and dark secrets are exposed as Luke struggles to keep his own long-buried demons hidden away.
And when Luke finds himself in a killer’s sights, his search for the truth becomes the fight of his life.
Can Luke get justice for Viktor and his daughter and prove his best friend was not a murderer, or will the shadows of the past overwhelm him?
Fans of The Killing, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Jo Nesbø and Will Dean will love this dark and gripping début thriller.
NOTE: KULT is inspired by shocking and tragic real events.
Luke’s hand shook as he tried to put the key in the lock. Something was wrong. So wrong.
“Just open the door!” screamed Therese, Viktor’s ex-wife, standing behind Luke and on the verge of hysteria. It was eight-thirty on Monday evening and they were outside the door of Viktor’s apartment on the third floor of Alamedan 30 in downtown Karlskrona.
Luke swore to himself. The key wouldn’t go in.
“You must have given me the wrong key,” Luke said. “It doesn’t fit.”
Therese grabbed his arm and tried to take it from him.
“Give it to me. I’ll take care of it.”
Luke jerked his arm away.
“No, I’ll do it,” he snapped, feeling instantly guilty for the sharpness of his tone. It wasn’t fair to speak to Therese like that. She had every right to be beside herself with worry. Viktor should have arrived with his and Therese’s four-year-old daughter Agnes at Luke’s for dinner two-and-a-half hours ago, at six o’clock. Luke started trying to call Viktor on his cell phone when he was an hour late, but he didn’t answer. An hour later, Luke was worried and he decided to leave his cabin on Björkholmen and head to Viktor’s apartment, a five-bedroom, 3,000-square foot place in a spectacular brick-and-granite building. Viktor, Luke’s best friend, had lived there since he divorced Therese three years earlier.
When Luke came up to the third floor, he heard music playing in Viktor’s apartment and assumed he was in there with Agnes. But the door was locked and when Luke rang the bell no one opened it. After ten minutes of ringing and pounding, Luke realized he was going to have to call Therese as she had a spare key.
Therese answered after four rings, and there was a lot of noise and talking in the background. She was at a work party and grew both irritated and nervous when Luke asked if she could come with her spare key. She had left Agnes with Viktor around five o’clock, at which point everything seemed normal. She promised Luke she would come with the key as soon as she could.
As soon as the call ended, Luke pushed the elevator button to send it down so Therese wouldn’t have to take the stairs. Ten minutes passed before he heard the elevator running. It stopped at the right floor and Therese stepped out—wearing full make-up and party clothes.
“I should never have agreed to shared custody,” were the first words out of her mouth. “He can hardly take care of himself. How in the hell could he take care of a child, too?”
“Now he’s ruined the entire evening for me,” she continued while giving Luke the key. “We’re celebrating the biggest order in the history of the company and were just about to sit down to eat. A three-course meal. He’s definitely going to have to pay me back for this.”
Now it was a few minutes later, and that calm anger happened had been replaced by pure, primal panic. Luke had never seen a mother terrified for the safety of her child before, and it was as powerful as any emotion he had ever witnessed. It made him even more desperate to get into the flat quickly.
Luke examined the key. At first he thought it was one of those keys which worked whichever way you held it, but now he realized he might be holding it upside down. He turned it quickly and it slid in all the way. He twisted it and heard the latch click open. Luke shoved open the heavy door and the sound of the music hammered against his eardrums. It was jazz.
Strange, he thought. Viktor doesn’t like jazz.
He turned on the light in the hallway and entered the stylishly minimalist apartment. Viktor hadn’t spared a dime when he divorced Therese and bought the place. He tore out nearly everything. New kitchen, new bathrooms, refinished floors, fresh paint everywhere, a complete renovation. He hired a local interior decorating company and gave them free license. It cost a fortune, but if anyone could afford it, Viktor could. The floor in the foyer was composed of black and white marble squares in a checkerboard pattern. White walls, a narrow black bureau under a painting by Blekinge artist Kjell Hobjer of a large red fish, covering almost the entire picture, set against a bright blue background.
Luke’s thoughts were racing with questions but no answers. Was the gas stove leaking? In his mind, he saw Viktor and Agnes lying passed out in their beds. But he didn’t smell gas. It smelled clean. Viktor hired a cleaning lady who usually came on Sundays.
Damn strange, Luke thought. Completely dark in the apartment and jazz playing loudly. So unlike Viktor.
“Viktor!” Luke called into the apartment as Therese pushed passed him, threw open the door to Agnes’ room, turned on the light, looked in and then continued into the apartment. Luke also looked into the room. The bed was empty, and the comforter lay on the floor. The pink pillows and stuffed animals rested in a neat row on the petite red armchair. The book of princess fairy tales, which Luke read for her last Saturday night, lay on the nightstand.
Luke hurried towards the gigantic living room. The computer, the source of the music, was on. He saw Therese stop in the entrance to the living room. She screamed and disappeared into the room. A second later, Luke halted at the same spot and saw Therese leaning over Agnes, who lay in her nightgown on the pale grey sofa. She had thrown up and looked like she was sleeping deeply.
Luke turned his head and went completely cold when he saw Viktor—hanging lifeless from a noose on the bathroom door.
Stefan Malmström is a former news journalist who has worked for Sveriges Radio and Swedish TV4. Today he works as a consultant, lecturer and author. At a young age, Stefan was manipulated into the Church of Scientology in Hässleholm, a small town in southern Sweden. KULT, his first book, is based on his experiences in the cult. Stefan lives in Karlskrona in Sweden with his family.
Thanks for reading.
With thanks to Sarah from Books on the Bright Side Publicity, organiser of this blog tour.