EIGHT hundred and fifty-two people died when the Baltic ferry MS Estonia sank just after 1am on September 28 1994.
It remains the deadliest peacetime shipping disaster ever in European waters and the second-worst involving a European-flagged vessel after RMS Titanic’s loss more than 80 years earlier.
In the midst of a ferocious storm, roughly midway between Tallinn, Estonia, and Stockholm, Sweden, the ferry shuddered violently, then began taking on water and quickly capsized. The wreck was never salvaged and most of the bodies now lie trapped on the sea floor.
Conspiracy theories abound. With the former Eastern Bloc disintegrating, in the early 1990s cross-border smuggling of people, technology and equipment was rife. Is it possible something or someone on Estonia that night could not be allowed to reach land?
Among those on board was Anita Sundström’s father, Jens Ullman. Now a police inspector, Sundström has never fully understood the circumstances surrounding her papa’s death. The surfacing of a tenuous link between Estonia and a pair of baffling attacks in Malmö, southern Sweden, reignites her curiosity.
Markus Jolis has attempted to murder his elderly wife with a kitchen knife and then reported his own crime to the authorities; he has dementia, however, and can’t so much as recall – let alone explain – this bizarre behaviour.
In the same city, businessman Iqbal Nawaz has been found bludgeoned on the periphery of a sports ground, apparently overpowered while jogging. The forensics team reports that the weapon used is wooden and ridged but so far nothing of this type has been found.
Against a backdrop of cross-cultural distrust and entrenched prejudice, Sundström pushes the boundaries of her sometimes-conflicting roles as a senior officer, professional colleague, long-distance girlfriend and doting grandmother. As she juggles her priorities, one misstep could cost Sundström much more than just a figurative rap over the knuckles at work.