Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The River Runs Red by Ally Rose.
The River Runs Red was published by Fahrenheit Press on 24th July 2018.
Berlin is in the midst of its worst winter in decades.
Against the backdrop of freezing temperatures, blizzards and snowstorms, the city refuses to grind to a halt. Lurking within the shadows is a Stasi victim, out for revenge against the former East German informants known as ‘The Ears’. Their dark secrets are about to be exposed.
A mix of ice and water and a single gunshot, provides the ultimate payback.
With the Millennium approaching, Hanne Drais, the criminal psychologist working within the Berlin Mitte Police team led by the irascible Oskar Kruger and his laid-back sidekick, Stefan Glockner, are seeking the perpetrator of these violent crimes.
Who is the man they’ve nicknamed Snowflake?
Who is turning the river red?
* * * * * * * *
A big thank you to Emma Welton for organising the blog tour and for inviting me to participate. I am delighted to be sharing an extract for you today!
The Journalist waited in the warmth of the prestigious Lang bar at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Berlin. Outside, the city was in the midst of a snow storm. Tall and stocky, with a frame of an athlete, his blue eyes darted restlessly behind the spectacles. Wearing a suit and a tie, he ordered a beer to calm his nerves, intermittently twiddling with his false moustache, beard and wig. On a previous recce to the hotel, he’d noted the position of the CCTV cameras and now, he made sure he was not facing the prying security lenses.
A rendezvous with Paul Steiger, the ex-chief minister of East German Sports throughout the 1980’s, had been meticulously arranged. On the premise of talking about the good old days in the former east, known as Ostalgie, Steiger was unsurprisingly, easily lured by the promise of a reasonable fee; and being the centre of attention appealed to the former ministers’ ego.
It was a ruse; the Journalist had long been planning Steiger’s demise.
The overweight, sixty year-old Paul Steiger, with a brown comb-over hairstyle, dressed in an expensive suit and a tie arrived a little late for the meeting. Later, the security footage of their meeting would clearly show Steiger facing the cameras, warmly greeting the Journalist-who was viewed partially from a side angle, carrying a rucksack. The recording would show the two men after introductions, going to the lift and up to Steiger’s hotel room on the fifth floor.
The room was tastefully decorated and had a lounge with comfy chairs, a flat screen TV and a mini-bar. The bedroom had an en suite that was visible through an open door.
‘Great view,’ complemented the Journalist, looking out over the snow-topped skyline.
Steiger puffed out his chest and strutted like a peacock. ‘I’m used to the best and in my view the Waldorf is one of Berlin’s finest hotels. I used to stay in the Hotel Adlon- when it was our side of the Wall- a nice place to entertain a lady!’ he bragged, adding, ‘Care for a drink?’
‘I had a beer downstairs, and I’m driving, so, perhaps just a bitter lemon. No ice.’
Ice couldn’t be wasted: it would come in use later, thought the Journalist.
‘I guess that’s the wise choice. Well, I’ll have scotch,’ he stated, helping himself to the mini-bar. ‘Make yourself comfortable. So, what do I call you?’
The Journalist sat down. ‘Anders is fine or Juhl if you prefer.’
‘Men of power use surnames,’ stated Steiger, passing Juhl his drink. ‘Well, I’m glad Ostalgie is still a topic of great interest, and for the chance to talk about the good old days, and even pose for a photo,’ he chuckled, sitting down, filling the width of an armchair.
Juhl smiled politely. ‘And thanks for speaking in English. My German isn’t so good.’
‘I thought Danes were real polyglots! Well, I don’t speak any Danish, so, English it is. Now, Juhl, before we start, may I see some I.D? Nothing personal- old habits die hard.’
‘Sure’ he said, confidently, showing his identification.
The Stasi man studied the I.D, exclaiming, ‘The beard makes you look older. Ok, show me the money,’ Steiger announced, his face full of greed, rubbing his hands in anticipation.’
An envelope with 5,000 Deutschmarks was placed on the table.
Steiger quickly checked it. ‘Yes, it’s all there. Ok, Juhl, let’s begin.’
‘I’ll write in shorthand,’ said Juhl, reaching into his bag. The long wait was over. Pulling out a gun with a silencer, he bellowed, ‘Not one word or I’ll shoot your fucking brains out!’
Not expecting this, Steiger almost wet his pants. ‘Whoah!’
‘Take your clothes off,’ demanded Juhl.
Steiger had the look of fear and horror in his eyes. Ushering Steiger into the bathroom, and waving the gun menacingly in his victim’s face, Juhl began running a cold bath.
‘What’s this all about?’ he spluttered.
‘I said… UNDRESS!’
Before long, Steiger was embarrassingly naked, with folds of wrinkly excess skin hiding his nether regions; he instinctively covered his penis with his hands.
‘Genosse; you’re no longer the big shot in the DDR!’
‘Oh, I see; an ex-comrade with a grudge. Did you work for me?’
Juhl felt his heart pumping faster, and he liked the feeling of being in control.
‘No, I never worked for you. I worked against you! And for your crimes at the DDR sports ministry, of implementing State plan 14.25, you should’ve been tried and sentenced.’
‘The DDR beat the world at sports, didn’t we? Besides, we weren’t the only country to take drugs- everyone did, and still does! Communists and capitalist’s alike!’
‘But as a consequence, some female athletes had sex-changes after years of being forced into taking testosterone, and the after effects were passed down to their poor little children. You denied DDR athletes their human rights- whilst you made money in the drug trade!’
The Stasi man didn’t feel any remorse and gave an incredulous look. ‘And you want revenge on their behalf, for that? If it’s money you want…’
‘…Nein! I want you to join your comrades in the River Spree… I killed them.’
Steiger was stupefied. ‘Scheisse!’ he cried, and began urinating on the marble floor.
Juhl’s tone was mocking, ‘Careful you don’t slip.’
‘Why me?’ he bleated, sinking to his knees.
‘Those men- Martin Ebner and Torsten Raskob, they worked for you in the DDR. They told me about your choices; a decision that gravely affected my family and my entire life.’
‘Those men have lied to you!’ cried Steiger, feigning innocence.
The bath water was now half-full. ‘Get in!’ Juhl barked.
Obeying, Steiger quickly began shivering in the cold water. Juhl took off his glasses and deftly slipped into overalls to cover his clothes whilst maintaining control of the situation.
‘Comrade, how many innocent citizens did you send to Hohenschonhausen?’
Steiger’s lies continued. ‘I had nothing to do with that place!’
Juhl’s smile was icy. ‘Don’t treat me like a fool! You, Groth and Taegner, covered up a colossal amount of murders. Your victims simply disappeared. This is your U-boat!’
Steiger couldn’t fathom it. How the hell did this quasi Danish journalist find out about this? ‘Who are you?’ he pleaded. ‘Let me go!’
Switching from English to German, Juhl whispered his real name in Steiger’s ear.
Wow – that was good. I feel tense just reading the first chapter…..
To follow the rest of the blog tour….
About the Author
“I’ve always been interested in writing crime stories and with the Cold War era, there is such a rich tapestry to draw from; especially the notorious and quelling Stasi reign in East Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, gives a contrast between the different worlds and any past crimes are held to account in a unified Germany.
Berlin is one of my favourite cities, and I’ve spent time living and discovering this diverse city and its surrounding areas. Seeing my characters in familiar places, they seem to come to life.
Hope you enjoy my Hanne Drais books.”
You can follow Ally on Twitter – @AllyRoseAuthor
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