Retired U.S. Army colonel and law professor Smith makes an awkward fiction debut with a thriller set mainly in 1960s West Germany. Maj. Tom Cooper, U.S. Army, and Capt. Simon Berwick, of the British SAS, join forces to track down a neo-Nazi movement called the Fatherland Party after terrorist attacks take the lives of their wives and children. Desensitized by their loss, the pair easily take to their new purpose and mercilessly cut down their targets in an effort to discover the secret behind Fatherland, which is somehow connected with the mysterious death of Hitler's mistress Geli Raubal in 1931. Jarring anachronisms, like a Muslim terrorist blowing up a 747 over the Atlantic in 1965, don't help a predictable plot and an implausible premise. (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Blood Eagleby Robert Barr Smith
While the apparent suicide of Hitler's niece in 1931 may have gone unquestioned in its time, two modern American agents must race to uncover the truth behind her death before the KGB and a well-financed neo-Nazi group interfere. As the death toll rises and time runs out, this compelling story comes to a thrilling conclusion as those in… See more details below
While the apparent suicide of Hitler's niece in 1931 may have gone unquestioned in its time, two modern American agents must race to uncover the truth behind her death before the KGB and a well-financed neo-Nazi group interfere. As the death toll rises and time runs out, this compelling story comes to a thrilling conclusion as those in search of answers must fight to keep the truth from being hidden forever.
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By Robert Barr Smith
Medallion Press, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Colonel Robert Barr Smith
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Chapter OneEAST BERLIN
Bruno Winterhalter swore softly to himself as he squirmed his stocky body deeper into the dripping concrete crawlway, lit only by the underpowered electric torch he pushed ahead with his right hand. Marta did not like him to swear, but she was not here, and he did not like this place.
He was alone, deep beneath the Potsdammer Platz, following a maze of old electric cable, his tools in the worn leather holster he had hitched around into the middle of his back. There was a little stale, greasy water in the bottom of the concrete conduit, and his belly and thighs were already soaked from it. He shivered and wrinkled his nose at the musty, oppressive stench of the place. It was an ogre's lair, he thought, a tomb, a dank place where neither sunshine nor fresh air had ever come. He sighed, and pulled himself forward another three meters.
He knew he had to be close to the wall of the bunker. Scheissen! he murmured. Shit, I wonder what evil things are still left in that damned place. Corpses, maybe, munitions, God knows what else. The Russians had never let anyone go in there, not since the city fell in '45. There were still guards on the bunker; not the Siberian beasts anymore. Nowadays it was KGB troops.
Bruno shivered, and reluctantly pulled himself on down the ranks of rubber-covered cables. The break had to be down here someplace. He could not come out until he found it, and decided whether it could be repaired, or a new cable was required.
He grinned sourly in the stinking gloom. The city administration would not like to have to put in a brand-new cable. Everything in the people's paradise had to be made to last. He shook his head. As always, something was wrong with the horn of plenty. All the good things somehow came out in the direction of the party leaders, and the lousy Russians. I should have gone to the West with my brother in '45, he thought, and now they will not let me go.
He pulled himself around a curve in the conduit, and found the bundle of cables that branched off to his right, and the little steel door through which they led. He knew instantly what the cables had to be. They were heavy-duty, designed to carry a great deal of power. With that capability, in this place, they could have only one purpose. This was the power entry to the Fuehrer bunker.
My God, he thought. Dear God, that's where the Fuehrer died, and all the others. He lay transfixed, staring at the small grey door in the light of the tired flashlight. And then he saw it in the gloom, the steel box, painted grey, lying just inside the crawlway next to the door, as if someone had reached through the access door from inside the bunker and laid the box there. It would have been easy to retrieve from inside if you knew it was there, but it would be entirely hidden from anyone peering through the access door.
Bruno laid his wrinkled forehead on his hands and thought hard. Maybe it was nothing, but maybe not. Maybe it was something from the old days, even gold or precious stones. Those things he could sell, no questions asked. Or even documents. And those he perhaps could sell to someone with connections in the West. Or they might be worth a reward from the party, or the Russians.
Ja, he thought soberly, and maybe a quiet one-way trip to Siberia, too, or an unmarked grave someplace. In East Germany, certain kinds of knowledge could be a dangerous illness, even a terminal one. He raised his head and stared at the steel box again. But it could not hurt to look; the chances were slim that he would pass this way again. He reached for the box.
Bruno found it unlocked, but he had to use a screwdriver from his tool holster to wedge open the lid, thick with rust. He turned his torch inside the box at last, and saw only two packages, carefully wrapped in oilcloth. He was a bit disappointed to find nothing obviously valuable, but curious enough to open one of the packages. He found only a slim document, typewritten, faded and soggy with the years and humidity.
He carefully unfolded the crinkled pages under the flickering glare of his torch and read, his lips moving with the effort. What he read made him suck in his breath and glance reflexively over his shoulder down the length of the dark and empty crawlway behind him. He quickly rewrapped the document in its oilcloth and carefully stuffed both packages deep inside his shirt, under his tattered coat. He shoved the steel box far out of sight on a tier of cables running just beneath the top of the tunnel.
Bruno lay still a moment longer, the torch beam flickering slightly with the trembling of his hands. My God, he thought, my God! I will go on and find the damned short, and fix it, and then I will finish work and go home as if nothing has happened. And there I will think this out. My God! I am sure I cannot give this to the Russians and go on living. It could mean Marta's death, too. Go slow, Winterhalter! Don't do anything stupid. And he wriggled on deeper into the crawlway.
It took Bruno Winterhalter two long months of musing to come to a decision. Even then he did not tell his wife of thirty-five years, afraid to expose her to what he knew. Only in the spring, on a Sunday when the green began to return to the grey, drab land, he and his wife went to the Treptower Park near the river Spree for their weekend stroll, almost the only luxury his slim pay would permit in the grim days of postwar East Berlin.
The elderly couple sat quietly together afterward by the front window of Gasthof Blum. The café was only a faded relic now, filled with the hovering shades of happier days before the war. It was shabby now, like its aging customers, its brave green and yellow paint faded and peeling. It was almost empty, although the afternoon was fair, and the old linden trees outside were green again with spring. Only two other tables were occupied, both by older couples like the Winterhalters. Like them, Bruno and Marta still came to the dying old gasthaus, remembering better, brighter days long passed away.
They still dressed in their best as they always had, though the suit and the dress were now old and threadbare, like the gasthaus. But the memories that went with them were evergreen, of youth and love and high hopes, and of two handsome boys, then young and smiling and excited over their weekend treat of ice cream and pastries.
But now one of the boys was buried somewhere in the rich black earth west of Kiev; the other was simply gone, vanished with the fragments of his fighter over the English Channel. And now the greying, tired couple held hands across the table, he nursing a stein of beer, she sipping a glass of wine, taking at least a little happiness from each other and the memories that crowded about them in the dingy little gasthaus.
Bruno had at last decided. He glanced furtively about the room-the only other customers were the elderly couples at two tables more than twenty feet away. The innkeeper, aging like his visitors, leaned wearily against the counter at the back of the room. He occasionally glanced hopefully at the tables, wistfully wondering whether someone wanted another order, but then his rheumy old eyes glazed, and he stood in silence, lost in memories of his own.
"Marta," said Bruno softly. "There is something I must talk to you about, something very important."
He glanced around the room again. "It can be very good for us, or very bad. I need to know what you think about it."
He looked fondly into the faded blue eyes of the worn woman he had never ceased to love.
"Ja, Schatz, what can it be? I have known there was something on your mind; I have not seen you so lost in thought in many years. I am all ears."
The tender smile faded as she watched his face. "It is very serious, too. I have thought you are worried; I have thought so for weeks now. Tell me."
Bruno gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "How well you know me, my dear. Yes, I have been worried. At first, I did not want to tell you. I thought it would be ... safer for you if you knew nothing. But now, well, I need your good advice as I always have. So, then, here it is. I have found something. I found it on one of my jobs, one during which I came very close to the old Fuehrer bunker."
He shook his head quickly when he saw the alarm leap into her eyes. "No, I was not inside. I could not get in, and I did not want to. But what I found came from that terrible place, through a utility port, a door through the bunker wall into the passage where I worked."
He glanced about him again and lowered his voice still further. His wife leaned toward him to hear his words.
"Marta, I found two documents signed by Hitler himself! Yes! And they are not just any documents, although God knows anything connected with those times is dangerous to have today."
He was almost whispering now. "One paper is a will, leaving sums of money and annuities to various people to whom ... to whom he was close. I do not think it is important, except perhaps to historians. It is the other paper that frightens me. It is enormously valuable, I think, and I know it is terribly dangerous. It is something that both East and West would give much to know. The Russians would kill for it, I am sure. Those bastards have killed for much less, and sometimes for nothing at all, except that it pleases them."
Bruno sipped at his beer, and glanced again around the silent gasthaus. "But, Marta, this paper is also worth much money, I think, if one could find a way to sell it without the Russians or the party finding out. It would be a way, perhaps, for us to live a little better. Certainly, it would be a way for you to be a little more comfortable when I am gone."
He saw the fear and misery spring instantly into her face, and was sorry. "No, no, my love, it must be spoken of. That time must come to us all, and I want to know that my girl will not want for warmth and food as so many do. This paper may be the sort of insurance policy I have dreamed of.
"I will show you where the papers are hidden, and you may read them both and see if I have judged them accurately. We will not try to do anything with them yet, not unless we see a safe chance, or there is great need. When you read them, you will see why such great care is necessary."
At last he smiled into the eyes of the woman he had loved for so many years. "And today, my dear, I think we may have another glass for old times' sake, and maybe for a better future."
Excerpted from Blood Eagle by Robert Barr Smith Copyright © 2007 by Colonel Robert Barr Smith. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Robert Barr Smith is a professor of law at the University of Oklahoma who lectures extensively on military and western history. He is the author of nine books, including Daltons!: The Raid on Coffeyville, Kansas; Last Hurrah of the James-Younger Gang; and Tough Towns: True Tales from the Gritty Streets of the Old West. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma.
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In 1965 divided West and East Germany serve as one of the fronts in the Cold War. Whereas the western allies adhere to the Containment Doctrine, the Soviet Union wants to unite the country as part of their bloc. Others also want to unite Germany with the deadly neo-Nazi Fatherland Party using terrorism to try to bring down the fledgling democracy.---------------------- In one bombing the wives and children of US Army Major Tom Cooper and British SAS Captain Simon Berwick died. Both men vowed to insure that vigilante justice brought by them to the perpetrators occur, as their moral codes have been destroyed making life meaningless. They have the opportunity when they are assigned to find three elderly Germans who the Fatherland Party leaders seek for their roles in the alleged suicide of Hitler¿s niece and mistress Geli Raubal in 1931 in his flat with his gun. -------------------------- This is an action-packed thriller that grips readers who ignore the plausibility index and willingly accept contemporary terrorism activity in 1965. The fast-paced story line focuses mostly on the two numbed NATO soldiers, but also flashes back to 1931 and 1951 when key historical events (to this plot) happened. It is fascinatingly that the western military pair has no scruples since their families were murdered while the neo-Nazis believe in the values of the Fourth Reich this leads the audience to wonder about adhering to one¿s values. Fans of over the Berlin Wall thrillers will appreciate this entertaining race across Germany in which there are no heroes as all the players assume that everyone including themselves are expendable pawns.-------------------------- Harriet Klausner