All Cry Chaos, a debut thriller by the immensely gifted Leonard Rosen, is a masterful and gripping tale that literally reaches for the heavens.
The action begins when mathematician James Fenster is assassinated on the eve of a long-scheduled speech at a World Trade Organization meeting. The hit is as elegant as it is bizarre. Fenster's Amsterdam hotel room is incinerated, yet the rest of the building remains intact. The murder trail leads veteran Interpol agent Henri Poincare on a high-stakes, world-crossing quest for answers.
Together with his chain-smoking, bon vivant colleague Serge Laurent, Poincare pursues a long list of suspects: the Peruvian leader of the Indigenous Liberation Front, Rapture-crazed militants, a hedge fund director, Fenster's elusive ex-fiance, and a graduate student in mathematics. Poincare begins to make progress in America, but there is a prodigious hatred trained on him --some unfinished business from a terrifying former genocide case-- and he is called back to Europe to face the unfathomable. Stripped down and in despair, tested like Job, he realizes the two cases might be connected and he might be the link.
|Publisher:||The Permanent Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)|
About the Author
LEONARD ROSEN is a best-selling and widely respected non-fiction author among educational publishers. He has written Radio Essays broadcast by NPR's Morning Edition, Only A Game, and All Things Considered, as well as op-eds published by the Boston Globe. He has taught writing at Bentley University and Harvard University and lives in Brookline, Massachsetts.
Read an Excerpt
ALL CRY CHAOSAN HENRI POINCARÉ MYSTERY
By LEONARD ROSEN
The Permanent PressCopyright © 2011 Leonard Rosen
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhen he entered the cellblock, Henri Poincaré braced himself for the clank of steel doors coupling, which produced in him a physical effect not unlike the dysentery he once contracted drinking bad water in Senegal. A long career had made him no stranger to prison corridors; yet the clank of steel on steel still ripped through his insides like a disease bent on killing him, which it did, in its way, with every visit. The extortionists, the counterfeiters and Ponzi schemers, the assassins who for the love of money would take one life at a time and the fanatics who would weep if they killed fewer than fifty: those condemned to these cages thought themselves superior but misunderstood, justified in what they snatched from the world. In Poincaré's estimate, they deserved the daily reminder of these clanging doors, and most of all they deserved each other.
Which is to say, Stipo Banovic kept good company.
Cathedral light from high, fixed windows cut through the upper air of the cellblock, though little of the Dutch springtime made its way inside. Here was the prison and this the block reserved for celebrities of a sort, war criminals awaiting trial in The Hague's international court. Four months earlier, at the end of a lengthy search that had taken him to six countries and two continents, Poincaré had found Stipo Banovic living in a suburb of Vienna with his young bride and their son and daughter. On the evening men with battering rams knocked through his front door, Banovic had been reading bedtime stories to these same children, who sat in his lap in an easy chair by the fire. The very picture of domestic happiness, save for the fact that Banovic had in another lifetime personally ordered and participated in the massacre of seventy Muslim men and boys—some younger than the ringleted beauties in his lap that evening. His wife cried bitterly and his children cried as Banovic screamed in perfect if heavily accented English: "Can't you see I've started over? I'm leading a good life!"
That was not for Poincaré to decide. Before they assigned him the case, his superiors at Interpol-Lyon sent him to the ravine where those bodies lay. It was springtime in the former Yugoslavia, and the snow melt had made traveling to the site a muddy ordeal. But the day was crisp and green shoots were emerging and everywhere the sound of water flowing suggested the possibility of life. Everywhere but in that shadowed ravine, where the stillness of bleached bones and the flapping fragments of cloth dropped him to his knees. No, it was not for Poincaré to decide or to forgive. He had done his job and the courts would do theirs.
He was already busy with another case, supervising security at the ministerial meetings of the World Trade Organization in Amsterdam. This visit was unnecessary, but he had come to face Banovic one last time before catching his train, much as he would check to see the fire was off in the kitchen before leaving on a trip. The man, unattended, was dangerous. Poincaré needed to see him in his place, behind bars.
"As I live and breathe," said the prisoner at the approach of footsteps.
"Good news, Stipo. I'm officially off your case. Reassigned. It's enough to make one sentimental ... all the time I spent hunting you."
Banovic turned away. His plaid shirt buttoned to the collar and his wire-rimmed glasses lent the former death squad commander an aspect very like the librarian he was before the Bosnian war: high forehead, small boned, a pianist's fingers. He looked more the scholar than the mass murderer, an impression only strengthened by the fortress of law books he had amassed for his upcoming trial.
His back still turned, Banovic said: "It was war time. Ugly things happened. You have your witnesses, those traitorous sons of whores. But the law gives me precedent, Inspector. Battle conditions. Men are beasts, it's true—as even a cursory reading of history will attest. Do you know what Titus's soldiers did to the Jews fleeing Jerusalem?"
"I don't really care," said Poincaré, approaching the bars.
Banovic glanced over his shoulder. "They cut living men and women open to look for swallowed gold."
If Poincaré faced him alone in the forests of Bosnia, beyond the reach of law, he knew he would have died and suffered considerably in the process. As it was, standing before this cage was rather like standing in a zoo before a predator high on the food chain. The steel offered some assurance, but even so Banovic radiated a danger that backed Poincaré away and made his heart beat erratically. This job had never been easy. Friends predicted that with his fondness for opera and arcane journals he would last all of three weeks. Three decades later, notwithstanding his successes, he wondered if he was truly cut out for this work.
"Years I ran," said the prisoner in a low, rasping voice. "The fight ended. I deserved a life, as combatants do. Now look at me, gagging on law books and reduced to kissing photos of my children. You are responsible, Poincaré. The others Interpol sent showed some common sense, some human concern—an appreciation for my circumstance. I warned them away and they broke off their searches. But you ..." He reached for a photograph and slowly traced a finger.
How could the man bear to look at those children? If Poincaré lived to be a hundred he would not forget what lay in that ravine, the bones of young ones reaching for fathers, brothers, neighbors—men who, if they reached back, could offer only a willingness to die first. And all of them left to rot until the snows came. "I could have broken off the search," Poincaré agreed. "There was a war. You were a combatant."
The prisoner nodded.
"And now that the war is over and you have a new family, you want to go home."
Banovic closed his eyes at the thought.
"Like those men and boys wanted to go home. Did they beg for mercy, Stipo? Did they pray?"
The prisoner stared down the corridor, and Poincaré wondered if his words had registered. They had—and the response, when it came, was saw-blade jagged: "Bad things happen in war," said Banovic. "But then you never fought a war. So don't talk to me. Don't you dare judge me."
"Not to worry, Stipo. The court will do that."
The cellblock was half the length of a soccer field, the two men the sole representatives of their species on that square of earth.
The prisoner laughed. "Why the visit?"
Poincaré stared at him.
"Come on, now—a clever man like you."
"You disgust me."
"Ah—honesty! There's a start!" Banovic held up two fingers, a peace sign, and pointed them at Poincaré's eyes, then his own. "I do declare, Inspector: you came to look in the mirror."
"Go to hell."
"Too late ... I've been here years already. Admit it—I fascinate you!"
"What I admit is a strong desire to see you rot."
"And keep the world safe from bogeymen like me?" Once more he pointed to Poincaré's eyes, then his own. "Take a closer look.... You know, you really should have killed me when you had the chance."
Poincaré leaned close to the bars. "I nearly did," he whispered, drawing Banovic closer still. "It would have been an easy thing to report that the arrest went bad and we shot you. But that would have been your way. No. I saw what you left in the ravine. You'll stand trial, you'll be convicted, and you'll rot."
Not before he was halfway down the corridor did the wave of bellowing and invective rush past him like effluent from a sewage pipe. "They were animals! You read my file, Poincaré. You knew I had a family! Three children raped and disemboweled—in front of their mother, my Sylvie. Sylvie raped in front of her parents! Then her womb with our unborn child split open and her parents left to stagger through their lives, begging for someone to kill them. You read that, Inspector! And still you came. Did you once stop to think why a man becomes a killing machine? I was an ordinary man. A good man! I had a family, a job. Then a war I did not make and did not want ruined us. I will put you in my shoes before I die. I swear, you will walk in my shoes!"
I don't let people go, the inspector said to himself, repeating the words like a talisman to get him through the gate at the end of the cellblock, and through another gate, and through another until the final gate closed, steel on steel, and he stood outside the prison walls beyond the reach of Banovic's agony. These are not my decisions. Poincaré leaned hard against a truck and slipped two pills between his lips.
He felt an attack coming on.
The train from The Hague to Amsterdam ran past acres of fields laid out in rectangles gaudy with color. Against a screen of heavy clouds rumbling off the North Sea, the famous Dutch tulips were an antidote to weariness itself. Poincaré needed the help. More than he cared to admit, Banovic had unnerved him. Even now, an hour later, his heart beat erratically—if not from fear exactly then from the knowledge that a prodigious hatred was trained on him. It's nothing life-threatening, doctors had assured him. A nuisance arrhythmia. Too much wine can bring it on. Also cold drinks, and sometimes stress. Do you have a stressful job?
Soon enough, the pills would kick his heart back into a normal rhythm, and his life would begin to look orderly again. It had all happened before, this confrontation with the blunted, redirected rage of men he had put behind bars. He would set aside Banovic's outburst, as he had learned long ago to do.
He flipped open his phone and waited through dead air, hoping she would answer. "It's me," he said finally.
"Ah—Henri! Are you OK? You sound tired."
"It's that man in Den Haag. You said you would quit him."
"Well, then ... quit him. Etienne called last night. He and Lucille and the children will join us at the farmhouse after all. You know what an ordeal it is for them to juggle their schedules. Promise—take it easy with work until we're back in Lyon."
"You know I'll be busy through the weekend," he said.
She did not answer. She hardly needed to.
"I'll come straight home from Amsterdam. I promise."
"Enough already. Retire."
A distinct possibility, given the morning. For the thirty years he had worked at Interpol, rising through the ranks, he had taken virtually no holiday that had not been delayed or interrupted by some special request from headquarters. Once, in Patagonia, in a river basin as remote as the Marianas Trench, a local official arrived on horseback to request that on returning to France might Inspector Poincaré first consult with the national police in Buenos Aires on a matter of stolen art. "Interpol-Lyon telex," began the official, hat in hand and so clearly apologetic for interrupting a family on holiday that Poincaré hadn't the heart to object. Claire, by contrast, placed her hands over the young Etienne's ears and, rather than attempting to kill the messenger, turned on her husband. "Could we be any further from civilization, Henri? Should we try for the Arctic next time?"
It would not have mattered. Interpol put Poincaré to strategic use, holiday or no. He had become for many in the security offices of Western Europe and the Americas the agent who had aged with grace. What he had lost physically he gained in intuition. He could anticipate a criminal's moves as if he were the pursued, and his perseverance was legendary—Banovic's capture being only the latest example.
Persistence did take its toll, however; on days like this his heart argued for less strenuous work, and he considered retiring to the Dordogne. But he could not, just yet, because the question that had drawn him so improbably to police work—how to hold in one thought the abomination of a Banovic in a world that was, in so many ways, sweet beyond description—had not been answered.
There was always the next case.
Chapter TwoPaolo Ludovici was a sinewy whip of a man. On loan from Interpol's National Central Bureau in Milan, he met Poincaré at Amsterdam Centraal and handed him a dossier, sparing them both preambles. "Trouble," he said. "While you were in The Hague, an explosion blew the top off a hotel along the Herengracht."
"No rest for the weary," Poincaré said, opening the file.
"We don't know if it was related to the World Trade Organization meetings. But the apparent victim was James Fenster, a tenured mathematician from Harvard who was scheduled to give a talk at the Friday morning session. Graduate and undergraduate degrees from Princeton. No wife, no dependents. Born in New Jersey. Politically agnostic. No debt to speak of."
Ludovici grabbed one of the coffees Poincaré had bought and slipped into an unmarked car borrowed from the Dutch police. "Fenster was the one registered to the room, in any event. What's left of him looks like burnt roast beef."
Poincaré closed his eyes.
"He was thirty.... Christ, I'm thirty."
"Tell me something useful, Paolo."
"Alright. Dental records will be faxed from Boston. The Massachusetts police have already secured Fenster's office and apartment. They're collecting samples for a DNA analysis that we'll compare with the results we get off the remains. But there's not much question about who, Henri. A hotel clerk confirmed that Fenster picked up the room key to 4-E at the front desk twenty minutes before the explosion. Video cameras in the lobby show him entering the hotel at 9:41. The bomb detonated at 10:03, erasing room 4-E." Ludovici started the car. "And for your information, the bomber used ammonium perchlorate."
"Qu'est-ce que c'est?"
Paolo revved the engine and pulled the Renault onto PrinsHendrikkade as if merging onto a Grand Prix course. Just as quickly, he slammed on the brakes to avoid an old man pedaling quarter-time, mid-street, spilling Poincaré's coffee.
He twisted hard off the seat and watched a stain spreading across his lap. "Paolo!"
"It's only coffee, for Christ's sake. Get over it." Ludovici honked and threw the car into gear. "I'll pay for the cleaners."
He was furious, but Ludovici didn't notice or didn't care. Poincaré grabbed a wad of napkins from the glove box. The good news was that the shock had pumped enough adrenaline through his system to snap his heart back into rhythm. He checked his pulse to be sure—ba-bump ... ba-bump ... ba-bump, a veritable metronome—then dabbed at the coffee stain with the napkins. Paolo had done him a favor after all, but he would arrive at the crime scene looking like an incontinent schoolboy.
What could be done with Ludovici? Poincaré's sometimes protégé, whom he had requested for this assignment, was a package one accepted completely or not at all. He operated at a single speed, fast forward, his metabolism rivaling that of a hummingbird. He routinely worked eighteen-hour days, boosting the efficiency of anyone who wandered into his orbit. He ate quickly, talked quickly, reached conclusions, generally correct, quickly, and cycled through girlfriends with a speed and callousness that shocked even the open-minded Poincaré.
He was also handsome, not so much magazine pretty as supremely self-confident, which in many creates the same impression. People noticed when he entered a room. He had a fondness for coats slung across his shoulders, Fellini-esque, and more generally a sense of style that Poincaré could tolerate only in Italians. His single worrisome flaw was a habit of taking chances, some foolish, with a near-deluded confidence that nothing could touch him. The day they met, on assignment in Marseille two years earlier, Ludovici had defied direct orders by entering a drug smuggler's hotel room without a protective vest, without a wire, without a weapon, just to "talk." Two dozen special operations police had surrounded the hotel, each positioned behind a protective barrier. The agent and the fugitive had their chat, within full view of snipers' scopes, and an hour later Ludovici emerged alone. "He wants pizza and a bottle of Mas de Gourgonnier 2002," he said when the others pressed him for news. So the command sent out for pizza and found the wine. The fugitive ate and, after profoundly miscalculating the chances of shooting his way out of a tight spot, died by a single sniper shot to the head. When Poincaré went to introduce himself to the young agent who had discovered the smuggling ring in Brindisi and, through Interpol-Lyon, arranged for this welcome party in Marseille, he found Ludovici sitting alone on an upended crate eating the last of the dead man's pizza. "You don't suppose this has any forensic value, do you?" he asked.
Excerpted from ALL CRY CHAOS by LEONARD ROSEN Copyright © 2011 by Leonard Rosen. Excerpted by permission of The Permanent Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The inspector's inner turmoil is as interesting as the mystery he's Investigating.
Born in 1852, Jules Henri Poincaré was a French mathematician and physicist, considered to be one of the founders of modern topology, and a significant contributor to Einstein's theory of relativity. More importantly for this novel, Poincaré worked on chaos theory and fractals, developing a deep understanding of how the whole can so precisely mirror the part. The protagonist of Leonard Rosen's taut thriller, All Cry Chaos, is another Henri Poincaré, but this man, now nearing retirement, has devoted his life to criminal investigation rather than math. As Interpol's Poincaré studies the murder of a famous mathematician, he's frequently greeted with "Are you related...," and has to say yes, a simple relationship reflected in the parallels of mysterious photographs and exploded images, fractured families and ruined lives. Tested like Job in Biblical pre-history, threatened with the end of his world and Revelation's rapture, Poincaré travels from Europe to America and back, finding in each tiny clue a reflection of greater truth. Nobody's quite who they seem; singularities pose choices, and choices determine futures yet unseen; and the branching veins of a broken hand still look like a mountain range viewed from above. Tragic, resolute, refusing to yield under threat, or after disaster, Poincaré follows the trail to its conclusion while all he's loved seems to fail. A beautifully detailed novel, with satisfying breadth and depth, intricately woven patterns, and well-chosen illustrations from a range of books and journals, All Cry Chaos is mathematically, artistically, and even historically satisfying; a truly enjoyable first in what promises to be a fine series. Disclosure: I was given an advanced reading copy of this book by the publisher, the Permanent Press, in exchange for an honest review.
Thirty years old American mathematician James Fenster is in Amsterdam to give a talk on his mathematical economics formula to at the World Trade Organization conference. However, instead of the speech, he dies in a terrorist explosion at his hotel; the killer used a smart bomb military-grade rocket fuel. Although his health is poor and he grieves the deaths of his loved ones at the hands of a vicious Serbian war criminal, Interpol agent Henri Poincare leads the investigation. He starts with those close to Fenster like the victim's former fiancée and his grad assistant; as both are missing. However, the inquiry leads away from the females to a militant Christian Rapture group, but Poincare cannot rule out others interested in the late professor's models. This super cerebral police procedural is a terrific whodunit with a mathematical formula as the key to the homicide. The story line focuses on chaos theory as Poincare quickly learns while dealing with the mathematician's fractured personal life, religious fanatics and rival economists, and his own chaotic brain. Readers who enjoy something different in their puzzlers will appreciate the aptly titled All Cry Chaos. Harriet Klausner
via goodreads Interpol Inspector Henri Poincare is good at what he does. When a famous mathematician from the U.S. is targeted and murdered by bombing he starts to follow what little evidence there is. When tragedy strikes at home while he is away he loses himself but, he rises through his own grief as he realizes that it may be connected to the investigation. Even on the brink of a career in danger he works diligently to bring justice to his family. This is so unique and for that alone I would have enjoyed this book. The fact that the pacing was quick and precise just adds to how I feel about it. It also tickled my brain, without being overwhelming, making me want to learn more. The characters had depth and I could imagine them easily. The family dynamic was put together very well and their story was as fascinating as the mystery. I can see myself rereading this one and without a doubt will be recommending it.