The Beige Man

Free The Beige Man by Helene Tursten

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Authors: Helene Tursten
slave?” Linda Holm clarified. She paused for a moment before answering her own question. “I’ve given this a great deal of thought, and I think the answer is power. The power to be able to buy the total submissiveness of another human being. I think many of them find it easier because the girl can’t speak their language. She becomes nothing more than a mute object. A sex object. I believe that’s an important point for this socially well-established man with a family. He hasn’t really been unfaithful. He’s simply used a sex object that means nothing emotionally. The fact that at the same time he’s got a kick out of the power he has over the girl is something he doesn’t want to admit, of course. A lot of men also convince themselves they’re doing something positive by giving the girl money.”
    “What happens to the girls? Do they ever get away?”
    Linda shook her head. “It’s extremely rare. A very small number of girls manages to make it back to their home country. Things might be okay as long as the girl doesn’t tell anyone what she’s experienced, but the physical and mental damage is often so severe that she ends up having a complete breakdown or committing suicide.”
    Linda fell silent and turned the laptop back to face her. She gazed at the small images on the screen showing this week’s offers on the sex market before she continued. “They’re consumable goods. Most of them succumb to illness and abuse.Some are murdered by the pimps or the clients. There’s actually a separate market for that.”
    “A separate market? You can buy a murder victim?” Birgitta exclaimed.
    “Sure. When the girl is no use to him anymore, the pimp might sell her to someone who wants to pay to kill her. Although that’s expensive.”
    Both Irene and Birgitta remained silent for a little while.
    “Are you saying this is going on in Sweden?” Birgitta asked eventually.
    “Probably, although we only have two suspected cases so far, both in the Stockholm area. Plus several girls who drowned when they were thrown overboard from a ferry, likely by their pimps. A cheap and easy way to get rid of girls who are no longer any use.”
    “You mean the girl we have in the morgue could have been bought as a murder victim?”
    “Yes. From your description, she sounds very sick and in a pretty bad way. Maybe she wasn’t able to bring in money for her pimp anymore. If he could just get a hold of the right buyer, he could make some decent cash out of her one last time.”
    Linda Holm carried on scrolling through pages offering various sexual services. “Look at this,” she said. She turned the laptop around, pointing to one of the ads with her pen. The picture showed two smiling teenage girls wearing nothing but G-strings, their arms around each other’s shoulders.
    “Heinz Becker has been running this ad for two years. The girls in the picture are long gone. But his clients recognize it. It tells them that Heinz is back in town, and he always has very young girls on offer. That’s his specialty.”
    “Who is he?”
    “A middle-aged ex-soldier from the former German Democratic Republic. His father was German and his mother was from Estonia, so he speaks Estonian as well. Went down fornarcotics-related offenses in the early nineties. When he got out of jail he turned to trafficking. He buys young girls from the Baltic states—with the emphasis on young. Most pimps are careful. If the girls are too young, it attracts attention. The police and border guards might start asking questions, and it can be hard to claim that the girls are there voluntarily if they’re underage. But Heinz is prepared to take that risk. He usually smuggles them in. He makes a huge amount of money while he’s on his tours, so to speak. It’s client demand that rules the market, and they’re prepared to pay more for really young girls.”
    “And this Heinz is in Göteborg at the moment?”
    “Yes. This ad has been on the net for three

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