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The gruesome murder of a young child, Rebecca Grynberg, sets Inspector Alexander Collier on a roller-coaster ride of events that directly endangers his family. Propelled into a world of spies, espionage and what appears to be a series of unconnected murders, he learns that the lives of his son (Richard), fiancée (Elsa) and her Jewish family in Nazi Germany hang in the balance because of his investigations. Reluctantly, he joins forces with an unlikely group: a psychic medium, a one-legged British agent and a NKVD Soviet agent. "Sounds interesting!"
The heavy grey mist that blanketed Bournemouth provided him a degree of camouflage. Ahead, there was a slight shimmer of the air. It became warped and twisted before it transformed to a soft susurration of wind. The 10:45 trolleybus passed, the last along this route...
Mary Elizabeth and her husband Lawrence were gregarious, convivial individuals. People easily succumbed to their charming, warm and inviting ways. So, it was, though not without reservation, that they eventually became an integral part of the landscape that defined ...
“Thanks for the lift, Uncle.” Diane pulled the woolen hat over her ears and jacked up the collar on her coat. “Today, well, are you sure you’re ready?”
“Of course, I am. I’m as ready as ready can be. Why such an askanc...
Lila Speaks Her Piece
The front door opened and closed; the hallway floorboards creaked under his weight as he made his way along the hallway to the kitchen. “Sandy,” Lila called, “you sure took your time about it. I tried to keep your breakfast warm, but I’ll mak...
A broad stroke of salmon pink across the morning horizon was fanning out and dancing among the silvery grey clouds. Silhouettes of chimneys and buildings black as newly laid coal in a burning fire poked smoke into the awakening skyline.
Inspector Alexander Col...
Particles of dust danced on a thin wedge of light that streamed through a crack in the curtains and fattened out against the footboard of his bed. Its source was one of many lampposts that lined the street. The musty air predominated over the smell of fish and salty...
Leonard Scoffield, head of forensics, pulled out the chair opposite Collier and sat at the table with his cup of tea. Except for the two of them, the nurses’ lunchroom, which was little more than a cubbyhole, was empty of people. Two other tables with chairs w...
Alexander Collier made his way down the hall to his office. His mind was dominated by the disturbing crime scene he had just left. Leonard Scoffield and some members of his team had been pulled off fingerprinting hospital staff to processing the murder scene of the ...
As it turned out, one of Queenie’s predictions came true. The Foreign Office did phone. He learned during that call, though they could not confirm it, that his son had been imprisoned either at Lemberg or at Posen near the Polish border. To his dismay, the lis...
Collier was preoccupied on a phone call from Detective Inspector Ellis Smyth from Scotland Yard when Sergeant Snowden popped his head around the opened door to his office. Waving him in, he directed him towards the two chairs in front of his desk. “So, the dea...
“Stewart Menzies sends his regards,” Captain Hall said.
Collier had worked with him in the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) during the late stages of World War One and knew that Stewart Menzies prided high intelligence and did not suffer fools lig...
Wish Me Luck
“This must remain between you and me,” she said. “Do you understand? No one else must know.”
Collier removed his hand from the telephone and acknowledged with a slight nod of his head. She was right and he knew it. Trust was a special commodity and breaking ...
Hoping for a Break
Shortly after Captain Hall shut the door, Collier retrieved his pipe and pouch of tobacco from the side drawer of the desk. Filling his pipe, he lit it. After he returned the tobacco to the drawer, he walked to the window and gazed onto the landscape. Solace stretch...
"The Lady Vanishes"
The phone book smacked hard against the doorframe at Sergeant Snowden’s head. Somewhat muddled, he picked up the phone book and hesitantly asked, “Bad day, Gov?”
“You might say that, Sergeant. Don’t take it personal.”
Atop the stone perimeter wall, hidden within the boughs of a leafy oak tree that overhung it, Werner Gruener peered through binoculars at Lambert Manor. Slowly, he scanned the windows. In his tweed overcoat pocket was a copy of “Psychic Glimpses” by Eliz...
The Phone Call
Kindertransport—the transport of Jewish children out of Nazi occupied Europe—was underway. The first arrivals had disembarked in Harwich on December second. Blindly, Collier and Lila had gone with the hope that their son and his fiancée would be among t...
Captain Hall Returns
Captain Hall and Inspector Collier sat facing each other across his desk. Sergeant Snowden poured coffee into her mug and placed the thermos containing the remainder of the coffee on the table under the electoral map. “Thank you, Sergeant.” Collier took ...
There was an unexpected bite to the late January air. The moon danced a hot hash do-si-do with dark cotton-ball clouds while from the tree-lined shadows, boughs crackled in the wind.
Werner wished he had worn his jacket. Clothed in a thin woolen shirt, work pa...
The Noose Tightens
Inspector Collier turned onto the road outside the gates of Lambert Manor. Earlier, light snow had fallen making the road slick. An inky, cloud-spattered and brooding sky blotted out the moon. Gusts of wind rattled windows in the Wolseley. His unfamiliarity with the...
Diane Waumsley parked her bike outside the Cricketers Arms on Winham Road. Famished, she secured the bike with the combination lock and entered the pub.
She wore a woolen sweater with a slight roll at the neck and flared pants. One pant leg had been tied off t...
Third Party Malice
Captain Hall glanced at the wooden prosthesis, lying on the table beside her. The memory she wished forgotten clung steadfast and fresh as if it were yesterday. Why did I agree to go on that hunting expedition? The flashback, raw and painful, assaulted her ...
The room was warm, almost too warm. The heightened adrenaline which had fed the Collier’s late-night picnic had long since given way to a slumbering peacefulness. Through the opening in the living room curtains Lynn’s bleary eyes deciphered a reddish hue...
Out of Dawn's Awakening
The sun’s rays peeked above the horizon when a Wolseley pulled up in front of Inspector Collier’s home and parked. Werner stepped back into the alley’s shadow. Located five doors down on the opposite side from the Collier household he had an unobst...
The cook—a burly red-faced man—emerged from along the hallway that led to the kitchen. Above his shoulder, on a brown tray, he carried a traditional full British breakfast of bacon, sausages, black pudding, hash browns, bubble and squeak, baked beans, fr...
Facing A Hungry Old Lion
Inside Collier’s jacket pocket was the blurred photo of Werner Gruener, given him by Captain Hall, along with two sketches. One drawing was based on the description provided by the train baggage handler and the other an attempt by Andre Bertillon, his forensic...
Pavel lit up a cigarette and passed the package to Anatoli. He had a clear view of Ringwood Pub. Anatoli assured him that their location would not easily arouse suspicion. I hope he’s right. Receiving the cigarette package, he tossed it on the dashboa...
29 Edgestone Road
The Wolseley stopped in front of 29 Edgestone Road. A woman weeding and planting in one of the front flowerbeds stopped what she was doing and looked up. It had been a long time since Collier had either spoken to or seen Louise Moodie. Still, he knew this was the wo...
He had not been following a rabbit with a waistcoat pocket watch when he had fallen down his godforsaken hole. And the climb out was painful. “Turn off that damn light!” Collier slapped at the open air. “What the hell happened?” He squeezed h...
“Listen to him. He’s right,” Captain Hall said.
A flock of pain took flight in Collier’s head, pushing aside his growing consternation. Queasiness forced him into an unwilling compliance; he sat. “I’m listening.”
Something Gained, Something Lost
When the shots rang out, everyone hit the ground hard except Louise. Captain Hall could see by the bewilderment etched on her face that Louise had not grasped the immediate and lethal urgency of her situation. The empty brandy glass on the table directly ahead of he...
The Night Ferry
Werner glanced at his watch. The night ferry to France was late. He scanned the travellers who had gathered on platlform-2. On his lap was the Paris-based newspaper Le Temps. Bored with watching the burgeoning crowd, he picked up the paper and began to read...
Queenie Sounds the Alarm
Finally, Collier was sleeping in his bed again. The change in Lila’s mood occurred shortly after the late-night living room picnic and the shooting on their street. Lila had not shared the reason why she relented, and, in truth, it did not matter to him. He fe...
Channel Crossing and Reunion
At the Port of Dover, the train ferry was split into equal sections on tracks at the port and starboard sides of the S.S. Hampton. Though Captain Hall had traveled this journey before, until tonight, she had never stayed awake long enough to watch. She marveled at t...
Aunt Martha's Tea Set
Two hours late leaving the Port of Liverpool, the captain of the SS Armagon paced the bridge. Known as “the old man” by his crew, he was a hardnosed veteran seafarer with a stickler for detail and for being on time. But tonight, his orders were to wait. ...
S. S. Paris
Reinhard Heydrich crossed the lobby of the Hotel Crillon toward them. Lynn turned to Melissa and whispered, “Why do I get the feeling I’m about to lose my head?”
“Maybe because King Louis XVI was guillotined directly in front of this bu...
An Unexpected Visitor
Lynn and Melissa hurried along one of the riding trails in the Bois de Boulogne. Lynn’s apartment sat near the edge of the park. Close to the Champs Elysees, her location provided easy access to bakeries, cafes, restaurants and superb shopping. Wide walking pa...
Behind the Scene
Max Claussen had become well placed in the Nazi Party. He was a lean, well-coiffed blond, aristocratic figure who represented the Aryan ideal. Money oiled the Nazi wheel and Max, who was a successful businessman, willingly provided funds through his profitable bluep...
Lightning pierced through the dark cloud-layered morning sky. Claps of thunder shook structures. Then it rained cats and dogs. It was the third straight day.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d think this damn weather is trying to tell us something...
Bucketful’s of rain smashed against Collier’s windshield. Images of pedestrians navigating the street, awash with water, appeared distorted and blurred. The thoroughfare had become busy with morning traffic. A vehicle cut him off. Though he drove at a sn...
Queenie gave a gentle nudge with her heel and the door closed. She removed her hat and coat and dropped them on the Chinese Chippendale-style side chair and entered the living room. “Wow! This is quite a pad. A good piece of eye-candy.” She turned a comp...
It was a beautiful August day filled with much promise, as summer begrudgingly relented to enter its final throes. There was barely another topic of discussion except Danzig. Berliners were convinced that Germany would soon retain Danzig. Like Germany’s previo...
The Switch Over
Curled on the seat opposite, Melissa’s sonorous snore kept Lynn awake. She had kicked her several times with the hope of achieving peace and quiet but to no avail. The train came to a halting stop. Queenie’s head fell against her shoulder and she pushed ...
An Evil Mind
The morning sun spilled through the large window behind him and the dark shadows that surrounded his workspace slowly melted away. He was proud to be known as “the man with the iron heart.” Head of the Gestapo and Security Service, Reinhard encompassed a...
Arvid Harnack joined the Nazi Party for appearances only. A senior servant in the Economics Ministry, he was also a NKVD agent, codename Corsican. He adjusted his glasses. “The mother in our temporary extended family is ill. Your wife kindly offered to help.&r...
Big Brother is Watching
A substantial number of Germans (nearly seventeen million people) had not voted for the National Socialist (Nazi) Party in 1933. These people were a constant thorn in Hitler’s back. To deal with them, a policy of intimidation, developed and administered by the...
Laughter echoed off the walls of the Harnack apartment. With various degrees of expertise, everyone had joined in to attempt the schuhplattler. Some ran out of steam early while others with more grit hung on until they too had to step aside to catch their b...
Four Hours Until Berlin
Hatred filled the bucket Werner had for a soul. Pain wracked his body. He pressed his eyes tightly shut. The smell of death had entwined itself in the antiseptic scent that permeated his room. He felt sick and attempted to sit up. Her voice told him not to.
A Journey Imperilled
Leopold pressed his ear to the kitchen door. “I can’t make out what’s being said,” he whispered.
“Gestapo generally appear at six in the morning not in the evening.” Arvid’s concerned expression convinced Harro that hi...
Alexander and Lila Collier decided to arrive in Harwich twenty-four hours ahead of the disembarkation of the Kindertransport children. After a long drive, Sandy was pleased to see the Beacon Hill Fort looming in the distance. He noticed pillboxes had been built into...
Day rushed into evening and then into the next morning’s light. Sandy closed the door so not to disturb Lila from her slumber and hurried along the hallway to the stairs and down to the foyer and out the front doors. He breathed deeply and observed Harwich&rsq...
The Death Struggle is About to Begin
On March 3, 1939, Czechoslovakian intelligence chief Frantisek Moravec met with Agent A-54 Abwehr’s Paul Thummel in Prague. Thummel was Moravec’s best German source. He told Moravec that Prague would by occupied by Germany on March 15 and warned that the...
Pavel watched Harro scurry down the steps of the apartment building into a waiting taxi. Moments later, he stood outside Harnack’s door. He heard a guitar playing within and pressed his ear against the entrance to catch the words of the song. His mind drifted ...
A Tactical Move
Reinhard kept his ambition secreted away, closely guarded, and, with remarkable perspicacity, kept it within the shadow of the fussy, narrow-minded Himmler. Himmler taught him the value of personal files and that the knowledge of other people’s weaknesses crea...
The Tyr Rune
Queenie felt a strong psychic intrusion. The normal equilibrium of her nervous system was disrupted. Her head throbbed. Werner’s vile presence was unexpected. Off balance by his baleful attempt to gather information, she needed quietude to ply her skills to co...
Otto Strikes Back
Inspector Collier was wound tighter than a spring. So far, the trip home from Harwich was uneventful. Except, that is, for the unexpected presence of an extra adult squeezed between the three children in the backseat. He thought the addition of a translator by his s...
Houses Live and Die
By arrangement, Pavel with the others left before the fire had been set. Only Arvid, Mildred, and Elsa’s parents remained. Thick gray smoke belched into the evening sky. In the background, flames licked at the sooty smog. Sirens disrupted Berlin’s late s...
An Unexpected Event
Collier awoke pressed against the roof of his vehicle. He had no idea how long he had been unconscious. How did I not see that damn lorry? Lozenges of late summer cloud lazily swam by in his view. He heard the creak of a wheel turning and the busy sounds of...
A Request Goes Unanswered
The Anhalter Bahnhof train station brimmed with people to the point of being claustrophobic. Out of the corner of his eye, Pavel picked up on Queenie’s suspicious glance shot in his direction. Is she trying to read me? Or has she already done it?<...
On Becoming Otto
Otto was beyond help. Cold and calculating, his emotional state was crafted to cloak his underlying truth. The role he played provided unhindered access and freedom of movement that was void of suspicion. Though his role was not what he expected, it was what he need...
Bournemouth evolved into a seaside resort because of the natural beauty of its cliffs, the wide sweep of its bay, the sandy beach, coastal location and outstanding breadth of view and openness. Ultimately, it boiled down to one inalienable fact. Namely, people wante...
By early 1939, Britain’s policy of appeasement had been cast aside. World governments hastily formed alliances in preparation of the impending war. On August 28 the Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed. In order that Stalin would put his signature to it, Hitler added a...
According to arrangements, Melissa’s group boarded the last coach while Lynn and Pavel with their group boarded the middle coach and the sleeping car at the front, respectively. When Melissa’s group entered the crowded train-car, she couldn’t help ...
Into the Night
Across from Werner, an old woman peered warily at him. Beside her, a young couple slept. He acknowledged her presence with a nod and surveyed the train-car. “I’ve often wondered what could possibly be so important for people to travel under such conditio...
An Irrevocable Decision
“Strength lies not in defence but in attack”
Poland was having a beautiful summer. Children played in the sunshine while on the streets of Krakow fashionable women shopped. Life was undisturbed and familiar. As August slowly melt...
Frankfurt an der Oder
“I prefer to think my choices reflect my hopes, not my fears,” Elsa said to Richard.
“That’s applesauce, Elsa. Think for a moment. The guy whose country we’re travelling through now, Adolf Hitler, has a ninety-nine percent approva...
“Bejabbers!” Startled by the hand unexpectedly placed on his shoulder, Richard recoiled and stumbled into the seat ahead of him. At first, all he took in was the SS uniform. Shocked into thinking the jig was up, an emotional numbness set in while he gath...
Summer Breeze Scattered by the Winds of War
August shadows spread long across Bournemouth’s landscape. Half A Mo’ Hitler, Let’s Have Our Holidays First signs, once strapped to the boots of some vehicles, were no longer seen. War clouds gathered. Its tentacles reached deeply into eve...
Luncheon at Simpson's in the Strand
“If my memory serves me right, this restaurant originally opened as a chess club and coffee house?” The waiter filled Collier’s glass with water.
Simpson’s in the Strand was a fine London establishment noted fo...
Menzies ushered Collier into his office. A clerk approached Menzies and after a brief discussion left.
“I’m sorry about this. Totally unexpected. Won’t be long. In the meantime, make yourself comfortable.”
Alone, Collier scanned t...
Collier froze, dumbfounded by what he had just heard. His mind shot-off in several directions in search of possible reasons, but each possibility traveled to a dead-end. Slowly, he faced Stewart Menzies. He hoped his expression said far more than any garbled words t...
The Red Rose
An hour after the train crossed the Polish border en route to Poznan, Captain Hall had removed her makeup to present her younger self. She wore a red boat neck, wide shouldered, day dress with push up sleeves, slim fitted at the waist with swinging lines. The dress ...
Pretense for War
Alfred Naujocks and his team arrived in the town of Gleiwitz—four miles inside Germany on the Polish border—and checked in at the Oberschlesischer Hotel. Feigning to be engineers in search of suitable resources to mine, they awaited their orders.
Approaching Warszawa Główna
Twenty minutes outside of Warsaw, Captain Hall was alerted by a commotion. Across from her, Pavel was asleep. Already on her feet, she shook him hard. “Pavel! Wake up! It’s Queenie!” She slipped into the aisle and ran towards the back of the coach....
Werner enjoyed the card game skat but after he dealt the cards, he welcomed the opportunity to sit it out. He sat back and peered at the man who had lit his cigarette earlier. I can’t put my finger on it, but I know I have met him before. But where?
The disconnected rear car slowly trailed behind. Then stopped. Pavel noticed three men disembark and scurry across the tracks and disappear behind a brick building. He sighed with relief. When the explosion occurred, the blast reverberated throughout the coaches. Pa...
Bournemouth: Two Weeks Later
Only three more steps to climb. This morning Collier would confront him. He was well prepared. But a slight sensation of being ill-at-ease hung over him. His hand wrapped around the handle of the door. He lingered. The early morning salt-infused air and warmth from ...
The Squeeze is On
These were not normal times. Collier found it difficult to think of Snowden as the enemy. Betrayed, he was deeply hurt. There’s nothing worse than knowing you’ve been had by someone you trusted. Wounds can be bandaged; they can heal. But betrayal is a wh...
Paint had started to chip off the walls. Closer inspection revealed where previous prisoners had gouged its surface. Time slipped away without measure, the result of the disorientating design of his six-foot by four-foot holding-cell. Recessed in the ceiling, a cage...
Not Quite Down and Out
Mentally and emotionally tired, Collier sank back in his chair. He had grown close to Archie Snowden over the years. Many festive occasions celebrated together would be no more. Archie was a traitor. There is no doubt on that score. Yet, I have difficulty accepting it. Why? Does my hubris b...
Where It All Started
Collier felt deeply alone. Salty air streamed through his open window. His nostrils flared with its aromatic scent while his mouth filled with its taste. Normally, he would have found it invigorating. But tonight, an emotional numbness had settled over him. Needing ...
“Who is it?” Lila tiptoed down the stairs.
Collier placed his hand over the mouthpiece. “It’s Queenie.”
“Hand that phone to me. I’ll give her a mouthful,” Lila said. “Imagine calling at this hour.&rdq...