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Five [text (large print)] / Ursula P. Archer ; translated from the German by Jamie Lee Searle.

By: Archer, Ursula P, 1968- [author.].
Contributor(s): Poznanski, Ursula, 1968- [author.] | Searle, Jamie Lee [translator.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookSeries: Charnwood.Publisher: Leicester [England] : Thorpe, c2012, 2015Edition: Large print edition.Description: 475 pages (large print) ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781444824506 (hbk.); 1444824503.Other title: 5.Uniform titles: Fünf. English Subject(s): Kaspary, Beatrice (Fictitious character) -- Fiction | Wenninger, Florin (Fictitious character) -- Fiction | Women detectives -- Fiction | Serial murder investigation -- Fiction | German fiction -- Translations into EnglishGenre/Form: Detective and mystery fiction. | Mystery and detective stories. | Large type books.Summary: When a woman is found murdered on a meadow near Salzburg, a strange combination of numbers and letters is found tattooed on her feet. Map co-ordinates that mark the location of a hideout where a horrible surprise is waiting - a hand, shrink-wrapped in plastic foil. And a riddle. It is the start of a sinister treasure hunt engineered by a twisted killer. Beatrice Kaspary and Florin Wenninger, agents at Salzburg's criminal investigation department, find themselves engaged in a gruesome game of geocaching - a modern kind of scavenger hunt using GPS. And the losers will pay the ultimate price...
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Ursula P. Archer is a pseudonym of Ursula Poznanski.

Translation of: Fünf. - Reinbek bei Hamburg : Wunderlich/Rowohlt, 2012.

When a woman is found murdered on a meadow near Salzburg, a strange combination of numbers and letters is found tattooed on her feet. Map co-ordinates that mark the location of a hideout where a horrible surprise is waiting - a hand, shrink-wrapped in plastic foil. And a riddle. It is the start of a sinister treasure hunt engineered by a twisted killer. Beatrice Kaspary and Florin Wenninger, agents at Salzburg's criminal investigation department, find themselves engaged in a gruesome game of geocaching - a modern kind of scavenger hunt using GPS. And the losers will pay the ultimate price...

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Excerpt provided by Syndetics

N47° 46.605 E013° 21.718 The early morning mist enveloped her like a damp shroud. The dead woman was lying on her stomach, the grass beneath her soaked with dew and blood. The cows were taking care not to graze there, which was easy enough; the meadow was large, and the thing lying there in the shadow of the rock face unsettled them. A brown cow had ventured over shortly after sunrise, lowering her heavy head and licking the flaxen strands of hair with her rough tongue. But finding her discovery to be unpalatable, she had soon returned to the rest of the herd. They kept their distance. Most of them just lay there, chewing their cud and staring out at the river. But even the ones that were still grazing avoided straying too close. The scent of death made them uneasy. They much preferred to stay where the first beams of sunlight were pushing through the mist, etching bright patterns onto the meadow. The brown cow trotted across to drink from the trough. With every step, the clapper in her bell struck against the metal, producing a tinny sound. The rest of the herd didn't even swivel their ears. They just stared stoically at the water, their lower jaws grinding constantly, their tails lashing to swat away the first flies of the day. A gentle gust of wind swept over the meadow, brushing the woman's hair aside and exposing her face. Her small, upturned nose. The birthmark next to the right-hand corner of her mouth. Her lips, now far too pale. Only her forehead remained covered, where her hair and skin were matted with blood. The morning mist slowly frayed out to form isolated veils. These eventually wafted away, clearing the view of the meadow, the cattle, and the unwanted gift which had been left there for them. The brown cow's muffled lowing greeted the new day. * * * As always, Beatrice took the stairs two steps at a time. She skidded along the corridor, racing past the second door on the left. Just seven steps to go. Six. Reaching her office, she saw that no one was there but Florin. Thank God for that. "Has he been in yet?" she asked, slinging her rucksack onto the revolving chair and her folder onto the desk. "Good morning to you too!" How did Florin always manage to stay so upbeat? She hurled her jacket toward the coatrack, missed, and swore loudly. "Sit yourself down and catch your breath, I'll get that." Florin stood up, picked her jacket up from the floor and hung it carefully on one of the hooks. "Thank you." She turned her computer on and hurriedly emptied the contents of the folder onto her desk. "I would have been on time, but Jakob's teacher caught me." Florin went over to the espresso machine and started pressing buttons. She saw him nod. "What was it this time?" "He had a temper tantrum, and the class mascot caught the brunt of it." "Oh. Was it a living thing, dare I ask?" "No. A stuffed owl called Elvira. But you wouldn't believe what a huge drama it caused. At least ten children in the class were in floods of tears. I offered to send a crisis intervention team across, but the teacher wasn't amused. Anyway, now I need to arrange a substitute Elvira before Friday." "That sounds like quite a challenge." He frothed the milk, pressed the button for double espresso, and then crowned his work with a little dusting of cocoa. Florin's calm demeanor was gradually starting to work its magic on Beatrice. As he put the steaming cup down in front of her, she realized she was smiling. He sat down at the opposite side of their desk and surveyed her thoughtfully. "You look as though you didn't get much sleep." You can say that again . "Everything's fine," she mumbled, staring intently at her coffee in the hope that Florin would be content with her brief response. "No nocturnal calls?" There certainly had been. One at half past eleven, and another at three in the morning. The second had woken Mina, who hadn't gone back to sleep again for an hour afterward. Beatrice shrugged. "He'll give up eventually." "You have to change your number, Bea, it's been going on long enough. Don't keep giving him the opportunity to wear you down. You are the police, for heaven's sake! There are steps you can take." The coffee was perfect. In the two years they had been working together, Florin had gradually perfected the ideal blend of coffee beans, milk, and sugar. Beatrice leaned back and closed her eyes for a few seconds, longing for just one moment of relaxation, however brief it might be. "If I change the number, he'll be on my doorstep before I can count to ten. And he is their father, after all, he has a right to contact his children." She heard Florin sigh. "By the way," he said, "Hoffman's already been in." Shit . "Really? So why isn't my monitor covered in Post-its?" "I appeased him by saying you'd phoned and were on an outside call. He pulled a sour face, but didn't say a word. The good news is that we'll have some peace from him today because he's in meetings." That was fantastic news. Beatrice put her cup down, tried to relax her tensed shoulder muscles, and started to sort through the files on her desk. She would finally get a chance to work on her report about the stabbing; Hoffmann had been nagging her to do it for ages. She glanced over at Florin, who was staring intently at his monitor with an expression of utter confusion. A strand of his dark hair fell forward, almost into his eyes. Clickclickclick . Beatrice's gaze was drawn to his hand as it clasped the mouse. Strong, masculine hands: her old vice. "Problem?" she asked. "Unsolvable." "Anything I can help with?" A thoughtful crease formed between his eyebrows. "I don't know. The selection of antipasti is a serious matter." She laughed. "Ah, I see. So when does Anneke arrive?" "In three days' time. I think I'll make vitello tonnato. Or maybe bruschetta? Damn it, I wish I knew whether she's eating carbs at the moment." Discussing menu planning wasn't a good idea; Beatrice's stomach immediately made itself heard. Quickly thinking back over what she had eaten so far today--an inventory that amounted to two biscuits--she decided she was perfectly entitled to feel hungry. "I'd vote for vitello tonnato," she said, "and a quick trip downstairs to the café." "Already?" He caught her gaze and smiled. "Okay then. I'll just print this out and then--" The telephone rang, interrupting him. Once he answered the call, it was only a few seconds before his dark expression told Beatrice to forget about the tuna fish baguette she had been dreaming of. "We'll be there right away." He hung up the phone and looked at her. "We've got a body, female, near Abtenau. It seems she fell from the rock face." "Oh shit. Sounds like a climbing accident." Florin's eyebrows knitted together, forming a dark beam over his eyes. "Hardly. Not unless she was climbing with her hands tied." * * * The corpse, a bright stain against the green, was flanked by two uniformed policemen. A tall man, bare-chested under his dungarees, looked at them curiously. He stood in the adjacent field, holding a small herd of cows in check. He raised his hand, as if wanting to wave at Beatrice and Florin, but then lowered it again. A rocky crag with an almost vertical twenty-meter drop towered over the meadow, jutting out in stark contrast to the idyllic landscape. The forensic investigators, Drasche and Ebner, clearly had arrived just a few minutes before them. They were already clad in their protective suits, busying themselves with their instruments, and only nodded briefly in greeting. A man was kneeling down right next to the pasture fence, filling out a form. He was using his doctor's case as a makeshift desk. "Good morning," he said, without even looking up. "You're from the criminal police office, I take it?" "Yes. I'm Florin Wenninger, and this is my colleague Beatrice Kaspary. Is there anything you can already tell us about the deceased?" The doctor pushed the top back onto his pen with a sigh. "Not much. Female, around thirty-five to forty years old. My guess would be that someone pushed her off the rock face last night. Cause of death probably head trauma or aortic rupture, the neck wasn't broken in any case. You'll need to ask the coroner for more detailed information." "Time of death?" The doctor blew out his cheeks. "Between two and four in the morning, I'd say, but don't hold me to that. All I'm supposed to do here is certify the death." Drasche trudged over, carrying his forensics kit. "Did anyone here touch the body?" One of the policemen spoke up hesitantly. "The doctor. And me. But just to feel for a pulse. I looked for ID or a wallet too, but couldn't find anything. We didn't alter her position." "Okay." Drasche beckoned to Ebner, who was poised with his camera at the ready. While the forensics team took photographs and collected samples, sealing them in small containers, Beatrice's gaze rested on the dead woman. She tried to fade out everything else around her: her colleagues, the traffic noise from the main road, the chiming of the cowbells. Only the woman mattered. She was laid on her stomach, her head turned to the side. Her legs were bent out to the right, as though she had been paralysed mid-sprint. Her hands were behind her back, her wrists lashed together tightly with cable tie. Eyes closed, mouth half open, like death had caught up with her while she was still speaking. Beatrice's mind instinctively filled with images. The woman being dragged along through the darkness. The precipice. She struggles, digs her heels into the ground, pleads for her life, but her murderer grips her tightly, pushes her toward the edge, waits until she can feel the depths of the abyss beneath her. Then, just a light push in the back. "Everything okay?" Florin's hand touched her arm for a second. "Sure." "I'm just going to talk to the others. I'm guessing you want to immerse yourself for a bit, right?" That's what he called it. Immersing oneself. Beatrice nodded. "Don't go too deep." She watched as he walked over to the two officers and engaged them in conversation. She took a deep breath. It didn't smell of death here, just cow dung and meadow flowers. She watched Drasche as he pulled a plastic bag around the woman's hands. Ideally, she would have liked to climb over the fence to have a closer look at the body, but forensics wouldn't take too kindly to that; Drasche in particular could get very touchy. Without taking her eyes off the dead woman, she walked in a small arc along the pasture fence, trying to find another vantage point. She focused her attention on the woman's clothing: a bright red silk jacket over a floral-patterned blouse. Expensive jeans. No shoes; the soles of her feet were dirty and speckled with blood, as if she had walked a long way barefoot. Amid the dirt, there were dark flecks on each foot. Small, black marks. Or perhaps something else ... Beatrice knelt down, squinting, but she couldn't see clearly from this distance. "Hey, Gerd!" Drasche didn't stop what he was doing for even the blink of an eye. "What?' "Could you take a look at the victim's feet for me?" "Just a second." He fastened the transparent bag with adhesive tape before moving down to look at the lower end of the corpse. "What the hell?" "There's something there, isn't there? Characters of some kind, am I right?" Drasche gestured to Ebner, who snapped a series of close-ups of the feet. "Tell me!" She lifted the barbed wire fence and ducked underneath. "What is it?" "Looks like numbers. There's a series of numbers on each foot. Could you please stay where you are?" Beatrice struggled against the temptation to move closer. "Can I see the photos?" Drasche and Ebner exchanged a glance that betrayed both irritation and resignation. "Show her," said Drasche, clearly disgruntled. "It's the only way she'll leave us in peace." Ebner put his camera in viewing mode and held it out for Beatrice to see. Numbers. But not exclusively--the first character on the left foot looked like an N. Written in an unsteady hand, the oblique line tailed off in the middle before starting again. It reminded her of Mina's handwriting back in kindergarten, the strokes leaning precariously against one another like the walls of a ramshackle old hut. The N was followed by a four, a seven, and something that looked like either a zero or a lower-case o. Then another four, a six, another six, a zero and a five. Black, irregular strokes. She zoomed in. "Are they painted on? With a waterproof pen maybe?" She looked at the other foot. Again a letter first, then a series of numbers. An E with crooked horizontal lines, followed by a zero, a one, a three. Then another of the little circles. A brief gap, then five more numbers. Two, one, seven, one, eight. "No, they're not painted on." Drasche's voice sounded hoarse. "I'd say they were tattooed." "What?" She looked closer. Now that he'd said it, it suddenly seemed like the only plausible explanation. They were tattoos. But on such a sensitive part of the body, surely it was quite rare to have such a thing. So now the question was: Did she already have them, or had they been inflicted on her by the killer?. She wrote the number combinations down in her notebook. N47° 46.605 E013° 21.718 The pattern seemed familiar, but where from? It wasn't anything connected to computing, and neither were they telephone numbers. "I feel like I should know this," she murmured, more to herself than to her colleagues. "You should indeed," said Drasche through his face mask. "And if you promise to leave me in peace, I'll enlighten you." "It's a deal." "Those aren't o's, they're degree symbols. Try putting the number combinations into your GPS. They're coordinates." * * * She wanted to tell Florin the latest developments right away, but could see he was in the process of questioning the farmer. "I came out at half past six to bring the cows in for milking, and that's when I saw her. I could tell right away that she had to be dead." "Were the cows in the meadow overnight?" "Yes. I bring them out after the evening milking and back in again in the morning. My farm's only a few hundred yards away, so it's an easy job." So the animals had been stomping around in the meadow all night long. That meant forensics were unlikely to get any usable footprints from the perpetrator. If there had ever been any, that is. She positioned herself next to Florin and held her hand out to the farmer. "Kaspary." "Pleased to meet you. Raininger." He gripped her hand tightly, not letting it go. "Are you with the police too?" "Yes. Why?" He gave a wry smile. "Because you're much too pretty for nasty work like this. Don't you think?" The last sentence was directed at Florin. "I can assure you, Frau Kommissarin Kaspary is not only very pretty, but above all exceptionally intelligent. Which happens to be the deciding factor for our 'nasty' work." His tone had become just a fraction cooler, but Raininger didn't seem to notice. He carried on beaming at Beatrice, even after she had forcefully freed her hand from his grip. "I'd like to continue, if you don't mind." Florin's voice was like bourbon on ice: cold, crisp and as smooth as velvet. "Did you notice anything out of the ordinary yesterday evening?" "No. Everything was just the same as always." "I see. And did you happen to hear anything during the night? Any voices, screams?" "No, nothing. So did the woman fall down from the crag? Or did someone attack her? There was an awful lot of blood on her head." He sounded eager to know more. No wonder, really--next time he met the other farmers for a beer they would be desperate to hear his story, so he had to know the details. "We don't know yet. So is the crag accessible by road then?" The farmer thought for a moment. "Yes. It's easy to get to from the other side, there's a dirt track that goes almost right to the top." Beatrice saw Florin write in his notebook: tire tracks!!! All she had written in hers so far were the coordinates. Underneath, she scribbled in shorthand the information Raininger had given them. "Does the woman look familiar to you?" she asked. "Have you seen her here before at all?" The farmer shook his head vehemently. "Never. And I've got a good memory for faces. I'm sure I would have remembered hers. Especially with that beautiful blond hair! Is it natural?" He grinned broadly, revealing a toothless gap in the top left-hand side of his mouth. "If you don't mind," said Beatrice in a gentle but firm tone, "we're the ones asking the questions." But the farmer didn't have any useful information left to offer. He set off reluctantly back to the farm, his cows in tow, glancing back over his shoulder after every few steps. Beatrice waited until he was out of earshot. "The victim's feet," she said. "What about them?" "They were tattooed. On the soles." He caught on right away. "So you think the murderer left her some kind of memento?" "Possibly. But I think it might be a message." She showed him the two sets of numbers. "These were tattooed on her feet?" "Yes. The northern coordinate on the left foot, and eastern on the right." Florin immediately strode off across the meadow back toward the crime scene, completely disregarding the potential damage an encounter with a cow pie could inflict on his custom-made shoes. He stopped at the pasture fence and stared over toward the body, his head cocked to the side. Beatrice had almost caught up with him when her phone started to vibrate in her jacket pocket. "Kaspary." "I'm not going to let you mess me around anymore." Every last word was dripping with contempt. "Achim. Now's not the time." "Of course not, it's never a convenient time for you, is it?" He was on the brink of shouting. "Even when it's about the children, or--" "The children are fine, and I'm hanging up now." "Don't you dare, you--" She ended the call and put her cell phone back in her bag. Take a deep breath, she told herself. Focus on the job at hand. But her hands were shaking. She couldn't think clearly like this. Shit! Crossing her arms and tucking her hands out of sight, she walked over to join Florin. "I'd like to know where her shoes are," he said. "If she lost them in the fall, then they should be around here somewhere." He paused and looked at Beatrice. "Are you going to tell me why you look so agitated?" She didn't answer, and Florin lowered his head knowingly. "Achim, right?" She pulled her shoulders back and straightened up. "You were saying something about her shoes?" She tried to pick up on his train of thought, keen to deflect the attention from herself. "I'm sure forensics will cover the crag too. If she really did fall, then we might find the shoes up there." But he was still staring at her intently. "I'm such an idiot!" he exclaimed. "Why? We can't be sure about the shoes, who knows whether we're going to find--" "Not about that. You still haven't eaten anything, have you? You must be on the verge of fainting." "Oh." Tuning in to her body for a moment, she registered a churning sensation in her stomach--which might have been hunger--but not the slightest hint of an appetite. "No, there's no rush. Crime scene work always turns my stomach anyway." She left it at that, not wanting to get drawn into a discussion. A light wind picked up, making the thin plastic bag around the dead woman's hands rustle as if she was kneading it from the inside. The coroner's vehicle bumped along the country lane toward them. After it had come to a standstill, a stretcher and body bag were lifted out. Drasche nodded, giving the green light for the woman to be taken away. They lifted her up and the wind caught her hair one last time. Beatrice turned away. Before the vehicle set off on its way to the coroner, Florin leaned over to the passenger-side window. "Tell Doctor Vogt I'd like the preliminary results today if at all possible." Beatrice's phone began to vibrate in her jacket pocket. It was sure to be Achim again. This time though, she wouldn't pick up. But she took the phone from her pocket just to check, then sighed loudly. The call was from the school. "He emptied the entire contents of his milk carton into the potted plants! It's just not acceptable, do you understand? The plants belong to the whole class, and if they die you'll have to replace them." "Of course. Just let me know if that turns out to be necessary." "He's not an easy child, you know." The teacher at the other end of the line sighed. "Please speak to him again. It's high time he learned that rules apply to everyone, including him!" "Of course. Out of interest, did he say why he did it?" The teacher snorted. "Yes, he said that water is too thin and he wanted the flowers to have a proper drink." Oh Jakob, my sweet little Jakob. "I see. Well, then at least he didn't mean any harm." "I guess. But he's seven, for heaven's sake. At some point he simply has to learn to do what he's told." Beatrice suppressed the desire to shout at the woman over the phone. "I understand. I'll speak to him." "Thank you. Let's hope it does some good." The teacher hung up. Feeling overwhelmed with hopelessness, Beatrice tucked her phone back in her bag. * * * At Florin's insistence, they stopped off at Ginzkey's instead of driving straight back to the office. "Vegetable curry helps to restore inner balance," he informed her, ordering two portions. By now, Beatrice was starting to feel like her stomach had been sewn shut. It was only once the aromatic plate of food was put down in front of her, and she had shoveled in the first mouthful, that her appetite finally kicked back in. She devoured the entire curry, then ordered some cake and hot chocolate. "Sugar therapy," she explained. "It generates temporary feelings of happiness. By the time I feel sick I'll have forgotten about everything else." She was relieved to see Florin grinning. "Will it spoil your appetite if we talk about the case?" he asked. "Not in the slightest. Once we get back to the office we can go through the missing persons reports. Our investigations are just a stab in the dark until we know who the woman was." "Well, that's not strictly true. Thanks to your discovery." "Do you really think the coordinates are connected to her death? The tattoos could be old. We should wait for the coroner's report first." "Definitely." He drank his espresso down in one gulp. "But I'm still going to put the numbers into my GPS all the same. You never know, we might find something useful." Outside, the skies were clouding over. They hurried back to the office, where they were greeted by a message from Hoffmann asking to be updated on the new case. While Florin went off to look for their boss, Beatrice turned her computer on and loaded the page with the missing persons announcements. A fifty-five-year-old woman with short gray hair who had gone missing from the local psychiatric unit. No. An unemployed twenty-two-year-old who had made suicide threats. Another no. The third entry unleashed that subtle but familiar tug inside her, like a divining rod quivering and latching on to its target. Thirty-nine-year-old female, blond, green eyes, five seven, slim. A dark brown birthmark above the right-hand corner of her mouth. Special features: none. So no tattoos then. Name: Nora Papenberg Place of residence: Salzburg, Nesselthaler Strasse. The woman had been reported missing four days ago by her husband. Beatrice only turned her attention to the photograph after reading the statement through in full. It was a snapshot, and not really suitable as a missing person's photo, because the Nora Papenberg in the picture had been captured while laughing gleefully. Her eyes were half shut, and she was holding a champagne glass in her right hand. Mouth open, eyes shut. Exactly the same as in the meadow, and yet so completely different. Beatrice made a mental note of the corresponding features: the rounded chin, the snub nose, and the birthmark at the corner of the mouth. Their corpse had a name. Copyright © 2012 by Ursula Archer Translation copyright © 2014 by Jamie Lee Searle Excerpted from Five by Ursula P. Archer All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

When a woman is found dead in a field, Austrian detectives Beatrice Kaspary and Florin Wenninger catch the case. They're used to seeing corpses in their line of work, but never have they seen a body tattooed with what turns out to be GPS coordinates. When they find out where the points lead, it's there that they unearth a container with a severed human hand, along with two cryptic notes. Florin and Beatrice are soon following a puzzling trail of clues, and even more body parts, with the feeling that the killer is building up to something epic. But when the murderer takes a personal interest in Beatrice, the tension immediately moves up a notch. VERDICT A single mother of two, Beatrice is a refreshing protagonist who isn't afraid to take chances in this first adult mystery from a noted Austrian YA and children's book author. Archer's very effective procedural, with some clever twists (and gruesome crimes), also explores the intriguingly odd world of geocaching, and those who inhabit it. While some readers may have things figured out before the end, the journey is well worth it. [See Prepub Alert, 6/16/14.] Kristin Centorcelli, Denton, TX (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.