Extract from Mike Mitchell's translation

Hansjörg Schneider's The Basel Killings

The police squad finally arrived, a good quarter of an hour after Hunkeler had called. It consisted of Detective Sergeant Madörin, Corporal Lüdi and Haller, with his cold curved pipe in his mouth. They got out, a bit too slowly as it seemed, and went over to the dead Hardy.

“He's dead,” Lüdi said. “Strangled.”

They looked round the foggy square, nauseated by their profession, the work that was waiting for them.

Haller scratched his neck ostentatiously . “A stupid business,” he said. “What have you been getting up to?”

“I haven't been getting up to anything,” Hunkeler said. “This is my way home. I just happened to come across him.”

“You said on the phone that you knew him. You know what he's called.”

“He's called Bernhard Schirmer. Known as Hardy. He used to have a diamond in his left ear-lobe.”

“I didn't see a diamond in his ear-lobe,” Haller said. “I saw a bloody gash.”

“Your way home?” Madörin asked. “From where? The Milchhüsli over there isn't exactly a top-class establishment. Nor the Billiards Centre. That's where the Albanians go.”

“That doesn't bother me,” Hunkeler said. “I drink my beer where I want.”

He was trying to give his voice the sharpness he usually had at his disposal. But he couldn't summon it up.

“I had a drink in the Milchhüsli and studied the Barbara Amsler file. That case just won't leave me in peace.”

“Night work, then?” Madörin grinned. “Which file was that exactly?”

“I call the emergency squad,” Hunkeler said, “and you take more than a quarter of an hour. What's going on?”

“Calm down,” Lüdi said. “We can't tear along through the fog. You really ought to know that.”

“Hauser was here,” Hunkeler. “He was faster than you. He took a photo.”

“And you allowed that?” Madörin said nastily.

“I didn't see him coming, because of the fog. Moreover I feel as depressed as if it was just before Christmas.”

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