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.The landing gear ground heavily below his feet and his stomach lurched.He fought nausea as the wheels hit the runway squealing and the plane taxied along the blue-green lighted lines.He’d promised himself he’d never come back.The plane braked with a jolt.“Wie geht’s?, mein Herr?” Ilse Häckl, his bureau administrator, greeted him at the gate, with a wide dimpled smile.Hartmuth caught himself and compressed his lips in a quick grin.What was she doing here?Plump, rosy cheeked, her snow white hair in a bun, Ilse was often mistaken by newcomers to his office for someone’s grandmother.However, she supervised one arm of the trade ministry and newcomers either caught on quickly or left.“Ilse, aren’t you supposed to be on holiday in…” He paused, racking his brains.Where had she been going?“The Tyrol.” She shrugged and smoothed down her shapeless dress.“Ja.My orders, I mean my job, Herr Griffe, is to assist you in any way possible.” She stood at attention as much as an older woman in flesh-colored orthopedic hose could.“Danke schoen, Ilse.I appreciate it,” he said, disturbed but determined to take it in stride.At the curb, she whisked Hartmuth into a black Mercedes.As they glided into Paris on Autoroute 1, flat streams of light hinted at the monotonous strips of housing projects along the highway.On the right after the interchange, the cathedral of Sacre Coeur emerged like an elliptical pearl bathed in lunar light.The skyline of Paris shone, but not as he remembered it.It was bigger, brighter, a jagged vista ready to swallow him.Already he was desperate to escape.“These came this afternoon,” Ilse said, as she sat beside him in the back seat.She cleared her throat and thrust a pile of stapled faxes at him.“And this just now, a memo from Bonn.”Surprised at this direct approach from the ministry, he leaned forward.Why all of a sudden, he wondered.“You’ve read this, Ilse?” Hartmuth’s eyes narrowed as he scanned the Bonn printout.“Mein Herr…,” she began.“Ja, ja,” Hartmuth said, looking straight at her.“But you are here to make sure I lobby for this trade treaty.” He punched the paper.“Is that correct?”Ilse shifted slightly but kept her head high.She pinned a stray white hair back into her thick bun.“Unter den Linden, mein Herr,” she murmured.Hartmuth shuddered.Mein Gott, she was one of them.Now he understood why, without warning, he’d been sent to Paris.The Werewolves, descendants of the old SS, still operated in blitzkrieg style.The Mercedes pulled into the cobblestoned courtyard of the seventeenth century Hôtel Pavillion de la Reine, tucked unobtrusively in a corner of the Marais.This part of the quartier, residence of nobility until the court moved to Versailles, once filled with rundown mansions, decrepit hôtel particuliers, had become a Jewish ghetto until Malraux saved most of the area from the wrecking ball.Gentrification had made it the trendiest address in Paris.Hartmuth could imagine a liveried footman in powdered wig running out to greet him.But the door sprang open courtesy of a bland-faced man wearing a headset with a microphone cupped under his chin.“Willkommen et bienvenu, Monsieur,” he said.Upstairs, Ilse disappeared into the room next door to Hartmuth’s.In his suite, he stared at his luggage without unpacking and his fingers trembled as they raked through his still thick white hair.He barely felt the old scars but knew they still webbed his scalp.Sixty-eight years old, lean, tan, with a craggy face etched in a permanent squint, Griffe was too vain to wear glasses.Alone among the antique armoires and gilt-framed paintings, he felt empty.He opened the glass balcony doors, stepping out into the frosty chill air.The vacant playground and fountains of the fenced Place des Vosges spread below him.Why hadn’t he ignored the minister? But he knew the reason why.As the silent architect of previous trade agreements and treaties, only his lobbying glued the EU delegates together.But did the trade summit have to be here?Under the pigeon-spattered statue of Louis XIII straddling his horse, he’d said goodbye so many, many years ago to the only woman he’d loved.A Frenchwoman.A Jew.Sarah.The cooing of pigeons and soggy chill of an early November evening floated past his open balcony doors.His hands shook as he grasped the door handle.What if someone recognized him and screamed his past out loud?Unter den Linden; that was an order.Also the Werewolves’ codeword meaning: one day we will meet under the flowering linden trees in Berlin under a new Reich.The Third Reich reborn.Unable to work, he gazed at the restored rose stone facades of the square opposite the window.I’m just an old man with memories, he thought.Everyone else had been ground into dust long ago.Fifty years ago he’d been young, and the City of Light had spread before him, ripe for the plucking.Very ripe, for Hartmuth Griffe had been an officer with the SiPo-SD Sicherheitspolizei und Sicherheitsdienst Security Police and Gestapo, responsible for sweeping the Jews from the Marais.THURSDAYThursday MorningTHE SEINE FLOWED SILVER, chill mist hovered, and along the mossy-stoned quai Aimee walked, debating whether to call Hecht.No contact, he’d said.But as far as she was concerned, the rules had changed when she’d found Lili Stein dead.She crossed the Pont Neuf with the still-lighted bateaux mouches gliding below as dawn crept over the Seine.Thick fog silhouetted Cafe Magritte under her office on rue du Louvre.Inside, at the zinc counter, she dunked a buttery croissant in a steamy bowl of cafe au lait.The espresso machine rumbled like a jet at takeoff.She’d accepted a simple job but the stakes had skyrocketed with this grisly murder.Morbier had treated her as a suspect and had her escorted home, whether to establish authority with his minions or—she didn’t like to finish the thought.Nothing about this felt good.She shivered, remembering the look on Lili Stein’s face.Warm coffee vapors laced the windows overlooking the Louvre’s western wing.She especially didn’t want to lie to Morbier about some odd Nazi hunter who would deny knowing her [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]