From the Publisher
“A solid thriller.”
“A unique, exceptional thriller…a phenomenon.”
–Gérard Collard, TV host, France 5
“An astounding thriller.”
“Fascinating, written with a sharp style, shock value and a lot of humor”
– Serge Perraud, www.lelitteraire.com
“Impossible to put down.”
–Temps de livres
“Brilliant and funny.”
–Chronique de Cassiopée
“A mix between action movie and a great espionage novel.”
“A spellbinding story…skillfully written”
“Captivating reading that won’t let go.”
Thinking about Books blog: “This is a great translation, nicely catching the rhythms of US English and developing considerable narrative drive as we quickly get into the action. The narrative is built around multiple flashbacks so we can slowly piece the key events together before and during the War… more interesting than the conventional linear novel.” Read full review.
“It’s fast paced, nonstop action, which makes ‘The Bleiberg Project’ extremely difficult to put down.” From Smeethsays.
Fresh Meat from Criminal Element: “This book kept me completely involved from the first page. The suspense is incredible because all the events take place in a matter of days. And they are action-packed days. Khara did his research and used it to weave a tale so believable you’ll find yourself shuddering because it could be happening right now. This is one of those books I wanted to end so I could know what happened, but then I went back to the first page and started reading again because I know there were details I missed.”
Library Journal: ”Khara’s thriller, with its pared-down prose, pell-mell pace, and extreme brevity, might remind some of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels or Adam Hall’s Quiller series…A quick read to be savored as a hurried snack rather than a leisurely French meal.”
“This is an excellent thriller that everyone should pick up…another great read from the team at LeFrenchBook.” From Musing of a Writer and Unabashed Francophile
First published in France in 2010, winner of the Prix Blue Moon for Best Thriller, and now translated into English as an ebook exclusive, Khara’s slim thriller alternates between brief episodes in the past involving Nazi genetic experiments and four days in the present. Jay Novacek, a Wall Street trader, is ready to end it all, his dissolute life having led to a child’s death. Jay snaps out of his downward spiral when he learns that his father, whom he hated for abandoning his family years earlier, had actually worked undercover for the CIA and is now dead. When Jay receives a locket containing a key embossed with a swastika and a slip of paper with the number of a Swiss bank deposit box, he discovers a package left by his father that hints at a conspiracy that will change the fate of the world. Jay will need all his wits, the help of a petite but deadly female CIA agent, and a gigantic Mossad hit man to stop the conspiracy and survive.
Verdict Khara’s thriller, with its pared-down prose, pell-mell pace, and extreme brevity, might remind some of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels or Adam Hall’s Quiller series. Events occur in rapid succession, without much atmospheric amplification, sometimes with lighthearted humor that will seem breezy to some but mere flippancy to others. A quick read to be savored as a hurried snack rather than a leisurely French meal. [Le French Book is a new digital-first publisher specializing in French crime fiction; its titles are available for all ebook platforms, including OverDrive; this title sold more than 100,000 copies in France.Ed.]Ron Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson
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Read an Excerpt
Stutthof Concentration Camp, 1942.
The other guards gathered around Horst, taking out their cigarettes and lighters in unison. They warmly congratulated their lucky colleague. Horst tried to conceal his happiness, aware that his companions would soon be tormented with jealousy. They eventually dispersed and headed back to their quarters, but Horst stayed alone, his feet planted in the middle of the path. The knowledge that he would soon leave seemed to sharpen his senses. From now on, every breath of this frigid air would bring him closer to Germany and closer to home. He would hate Poland for the rest of his life.
One day he’d forget the horrors committed here. He took out the photo of his wife and baby from his inside pocket and kissed it. Suddenly, his vision blurred. A sharp noise wracked his skull. Where was it coming from? He tilted his head to the right. Orange flames enveloped his shoulder. The cold gave way to warmth, the world teetered, and he fell face-down. As the life painlessly left his body, Horst saw a trickle of blood run across the ground and over the photograph he was still holding in his burned hand. A child’s bare feet scampered across frozen earth; this was his last vision. Horst Geller, SS man by happenstance, a husband and father swept up in the general madness of war, died November 9, 1942. He was one of ten official victims in an assassination attempt against Heinrich Himmler. The master of the Black Order survived.
The final solution rolled inexorably onward.
Manhattan, present day, 9:48 a.m.
This morning, like every other morning, I’m hung over. My brain is fried. I’m a piece of shit. My head is pounding, and as I grope for aspirin on the bedside table, the lamp falls to the floor and breaks. How did that get there? When I sprinkle two pills into my palm, I feel better already. I toss them back and swallow them dry—water’s for pussies. I bury my head in the pillow. I don’t know what time it is, and I don’t give a damn. There’s a nagging sound, like something continually falling—or a lot of little things. My mouth tastes like tobacco. I’m a human ashtray.
I identify the sound. Water. A girl is in my shower. What’s her name again? I don’t remember, and I don’t give a shit either. If she’s taking a shower, she’s leaving soon. Fine by me. Everything is fine by me, as long as I take the hits. There’s one thing left to do, but I don’t have the guts. I just want to be done with it once and for all. I could use a rope or jump off a building, but I’m a coward. So until I find an easy way out, I’m killing myself one day at a time. It’s the same thing in the end.
She comes through the room, and I open an eye to see what she looks like. Small, brunette, tight. Not bad. She doesn’t look at me and probably doesn’t know my name either. But now I remember hers. Rachel. Is it Wednesday? Rachel was Tuesday. Actually, no, I don’t know her name. She makes an incredible amount of noise for somebody getting dressed. I hear her saying something from the other room. My face is still in the pillow, and I can’t understand. Probably “see you later.” Sure. See you never.
Finally I’m alone. I open my eyes. The fog in my head is gone, but it took its sweet time leaving. Ten in the morning, and I’m late for work as usual. That bitch splashed water all over the bathroom! I hate that. It’s a holdover from the days when I liked everything to be neat and in its place. I mop up the floor with a towel and get in the shower. The warm jets of water massage my body and gradually wake me up.
I’m thirty-one. I’m an asshole trader who works for a piece-of-shit Wall Street firm. I’m just a nobody, but I still seem to have a name: Jay Novacek. I turn off the water and grab a pack of cigarettes that’s been left beside the sink. I couldn’t just leave it there all alone, poor thing. I light one, because if I’m going to stick with my two-pack-a-day habit I have to get cracking. I look in the mirror and have to admit that I’m pretty well-built, though the memories of college sports and my occasional squash matches seem pretty distant now. I’m a good-looking guy. Girls say so, anyway. Blue eyes and a square jaw—they like that. The mirror steams up, and I can’t see myself anymore. Thank God.
10:20. I’m smoking my third cigarette and sprawled on the beige leather couch in the living room. A steaming cup of coffee rests on the glass coffee table. Coffee is the only way I’ll make it through the day. If everything goes well, I’ll be dressed in ten minutes and in my office before eleven. Miracles can happen.
I hate my apartment. It reeks of money—big, empty and cold. Did I ever like this shit? Leather? Glass and black lacquer? Abstract scribbles and splatters by painters more fashionable than talented? I guess the answer is yes. I recognize my personality only in the plastic Spiderman and Doctor Doom figurines on top of my stereo system.
I take another drag. I’m a piece of shit who can’t even remember what he did last night. But I do remember every detail of one day by heart, to the point that I play it in my mind again and again. How long has it been? Six months? My memory of that day is as vivid as the coffee cup in front of me. I close my eyes and replay the events of that day for the umpteenth time…
I’m at the office. In front of me are six computer screens, blinking everywhere, with graphs, curves, trends, numbers. The world’s economy in a nutshell. On the other side of the Earth, people get up, work, pay back their loans, do their best to scrape by. But to me they don’t live. They produce. And what they produce makes me rich.
It’s Monday morning, and Dow Jones has collapsed. My friends are all trying to sell, but I’m buying everything that comes past. At the market’s close that afternoon, the results are unprecedented: an eleven-point gain. I’m a star. I’ve just made a billion dollars for my firm, and fifty million of it is mine. Nobody’s hotter than me. My boss is on cloud nine. My clients call, one after another, to thank me for what I’ve done. Champagne in the boardroom with the decrepit senior partners, conservative assholes, every one. The associates join us, and we pass the bottle around. When it’s empty we go to dinner—French and expensive. You do what you have to do. The other traders watch us go by like masters of the universe. They throw me dirty looks. They can go screw themselves, the losers. In the elevator we joke and slap each other on the back.
Up until then everything was going fine. The sound of the doorbell snaps me back to the present. 10:23. Shit! Who the hell could it be? Whatever. Go on, asshole, ring all you want. He’s a persistent asshole. I drag myself to the door. This apartment is way too big. I slide back the deadbolt and turn the knob. Two huge military men are standing ramrod straight in the hallway. They’re wearing their best brass, white gloves, hats, the whole nine yards. Even their medals are out, and these guys have a few. I’d say the first guy, the older one in front, has about fifty. His clone, twenty years younger, has nearly as many. They would seem to serve a purely decorative function.
“Mr. Corbin?” (Nobody’s called me that for at least twenty years.)
“Mr. Corbin is my father. I’m Jeremy Novacek.”
The penguins don’t even flinch. “Jeremy Novacek, we’re here to present our sincere condolences on behalf of the armed forces of the United States of America. Your father, Air Force Lieutenant General Daniel J. Corbin, passed away. It’s an honor to present you with this flag, as well as your father’s military decorations.” They give a military salute—rigid but clean. I’m not sure what to do. They don’t look like they want to come in and kick back. I salute in return. It seems to work. They turn to the left and leave in step with each other. I push the door shut and stand there. I’m holding a flag folded in a triangle and a box of metal scraps stamped with eagles and stars.
My old man is dead. I lean against the bar in the kitchen, grab a bottle of cognac and throw back a gulp. News like this calls for a celebration. Today’s program has just changed: first the office and then a train to Poughkeepsie. I ought to tell my mother that Lieutenant General Corbin finally decided to kick it.