Swedish Designs

Lina Lindström’s career in criminal forensics exposed her to what can arise from bungling, blind rage. At the same time, though, she witnessed outcomes created through careful planning and precise execution. Though both approaches led to murder, she often was impressed with the creativity behind the latter.  It was one such creative homicide—one she finally “solved” but the solution for which was impossible to prove—that sparked Lina’s interest in telekinetics and, in particular, telekinetic physicality.

A wealthy and seemingly well-adjusted Swedish high-tech entrepreneur died when his car suddenly veered into the guard rails of the Svinesund Bridge, ultimately diving into the Svinesund Sound below. The bridge crosses the Idde Fjord, separating the Swedish municipality of Strömstad from the Norwegian municipality of Halden. Data from the car’s computers revealed that the car’s accelerator was pressed to the floor shortly after the vehicle passed through the customs and toll stations on the Swedish side. About mid-way across the bridge, the car’s steering wheel turned sharply to the right, thrusting the car into the guard rails. The vehicle did not immediately cross over the rails but, rather, it climbed part way up and continued heading toward the Norwegian side for several hundred feet before it finally went over the top of the railing and plunged into the sound below, killing the driver instantly. The man behind the wheel, Christian von Karlsson, was driving his new Koenigsegg Regera, a “hypercar” made in Swedish by Koenigsegg Automotive AB. During Lina Lindström’s investigation into von Karlsson’s death, she discovered that the man had paid nearly $2 million in cash for the car just a week before he died. An extensive investigation into the car itself—early suspicions centered on the idea that vehicle malfunctions were responsible for the tragedy—revealed no mechanical failures that could have caused the accident. Attention then turned to the driver’s state of mind. Again, the investigation came up empty-handed. Christian von Karlsson was rich, successful, happy, intelligent, good-looking, athletic, compassionate, and a philanthropist, to boot. The authorities, though, could not find it in themselves to say his death was simply an unfortunately accident. They decided, without any supporting evidence, that von Karlsson’s death could be nothing other than an unexpected and utterly unpredictable suicide. When her superior told her the Swedish Accident Investigation Authority decided to close the investigation and say the man took his own life, Lina Lindström was outraged.

“What bit of evidence did they find that could possibly support such a conclusion? There is absolutely nothing to suggest the man killed himself! I will not accept this! It’s just a bungling bureaucracy’s idiotic way of saying ‘we don’t know what happened.’ Rather than admit it, they lay blame on the poor man for his own death.”

Lars Eklund probably knew it was pointless to try to calm her down, but he tried, nonetheless. “Lina, we have no control over their decisions. We simply conduct the investigation at their request. All we can do is to conduct our forensic assessments and give them the results. It’s up to them to decide how to interpret what we tell them.”

“Well, then, they need find some new interpreters! Obviously, they don’t know what they’re doing over there. Okay. I know I’m off the investigation, officially. But I am sure you will not mind if I continue to explore it on my own time, right?”

“Lina, I know I could not stop you if I tried. But you must understand any efforts you make will be strictly on your own time. Not a minute while you’re on duty. And if you find anything of consequence, you are to bring it only to me and no one else. Are we clear?”

Lina nodded. She knew Lars needed to believe he was in charge.

Lina learned that von Karlsson’s new wife of six months, Elizabeth Broden, stood to inherit his entire quite considerable estate. Broden, an American woman who had lived with von Karlsson for three years before their marriage, had become a Swedish citizen just two months before her husband’s death. The woman, a celebrity in her own right, played a part in the Swedish television series Modus. Five weeks after von Karlsson’s death, on a Saturday morning, Lina called Elizabeth Broden.

“Ms. Broden. I’m Lina Lindström. You may know that I was involved in the investigation of your husband’s tragic death. Though the investigation is officially closed, I’d like to ask you a few questions about your husband. Would you be willing to meet with me this morning, if you have time?”

Lina waited for Broden’s response. It seemed to Lina that the pause was a little too long, but she waited.

“Uh, sure, I’m willing to meet you. I have a lunch appointment, but I will be here until just before noon. I assume you have my address?”

“That would be great. Yes, I know where you are. I can be there in a hour, if that’s all right.”

“I’ll be here. See you in an hour.”

Lina couldn’t tell from the front of the house that someone very rich lived in the nondescript, modest-looking house. It looked plain, ordinary. Just another middle-income-earner house on a plain, middle-income street. She strode up the walkway to the front porch, slipped off her shoes, and rang the doorbell.  It swung open almost immediately.

“You must be Ms. Lindström. I’m Elizabeth Broden. Come in.”

“Thanks for allowing me to take a few minutes of your time this morning, Ms. Broden.  I promise I’ll be brief.”

Broden waved her arm, inviting Lina to come in. Lina entered, then let Broden lead the way from the foyer to a large room directly in front of the entry. Though the floors looked like polished wood, the clicking sounds of Lina’s heels revealed they were wood-look ceramic. Expensive, Lina mused.

“We can sit there,” Broden said, motioning to a large teak table, sleek and clean-lined, surrounded by eight teak chairs. The upholstery, vibrant abstract red and green splashes, paired well with the chairs’ polished wood frames, giving the ensemble an air of rich sophistication. The wall of glass on the other side of the table, Lina observed, was not a solid wall but a set of doors that could be folded, opening the room to the stone and wood deck and lush garden beyond.

“You have a lovely home,” Lina said, glancing around the room at a half-dozen large abstract paintings. “I love the artwork.”

“Thank you. I dabble in oils and acrylics.”

“They’re yours? Such talent! And such excellent taste! Just like mine.” Lina smiled broadly. There was a time she would have covered her smile with her hand to hide the very large diastema between her two front teeth; she now considered it part of her trademark beauty. She was no longer unable to admit she was very attractive.

“You’re too kind. Though I’m glad to know someone else shares my taste. Now, what can I do for you?”

“First, let me express my condolences on the death of your husband, Ms. Broden. It’s tragic to lose someone so talented and so generous, especially so young.”

“Thank you. It still hasn’t completely sunk in. You said you had questions even though the investigation is closed. I think you—or is it they?—got it wrong. I don’t believe for a minute my husband committed suicide. He was too happy, too focused on the future, too—” She  stopped, as if searching for the right word.

“Yes, my questions have to do with the conclusions of the investigation. I question its outcome, as well. That’s why I’d like to ask a few questions.”

“Okay.”

“Well, first, tell me about him. Tell me what kind of man he was.”

Broden sighed and leaned forward. She put her elbows on the table and clasped her hands together.

“He was driven. Passionate. He thought he was making progress toward technological solutions to world hunger. Water shortages. He was convinced technology would make war obsolete. And he thought technology would finally relieve the world of its dependence on religion for ‘salvation.’ God, I could go on and on about how utterly sure he was that technology, his technology, was the lifeblood of the future.”

Lina nodded as Broden spoke. When Broden paused, Lina forced herself to remain silent. She had learned that silence was not an empty space to be filled, but a lode of rich ore to be mined.

THERE WILL BE MORE. JUST NOT RIGHT THIS MOMENT.

 

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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