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Authors: Michael Gilbert

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Mr. Calder & Mr. Behrens

Copyright & Information

Mr. Calder & Mr. Behrens

 

First published in 1966

© Estate of Michael Gilbert; House of Stratus 1966-2012

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

 

The right of Michael Gilbert to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted.

 

This edition published in 2012 by House of Stratus, an imprint of

Stratus Books Ltd., Lisandra House, Fore Street, Looe,

Cornwall, PL13 1AD, UK.

 

Typeset by House of Stratus.

 

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library and the Library of Congress.

 

 
EAN
 
ISBN
 
Edition
 
 
0755105273
 
9780755105274
 
Print
 
 
0755131967
 
9780755131969
 
Kindle
 
 
0755132335
 
9780755132331
 
Epub
 

 

This is a fictional work and all characters are drawn from the author’s imagination.

Any resemblance or similarities to persons either living or dead are entirely coincidental.

 

 

www.houseofstratus.com

About the Author

 

 

Born in Lincolnshire, England, Michael Francis Gilbert graduated in law from the University of London in 1937, shortly after which he first spent some time teaching at a prep-school which was followed by six years serving with the Royal Horse Artillery. During World War II he was captured following service in North Africa and Italy, and his prisoner-of-war experiences later leading to the writing of the acclaimed novel
‘Death in Captivity’
in 1952.

After the war, Gilbert worked as a solicitor in London, but his writing continued throughout his legal career and in addition to novels he wrote stage plays and scripts for radio and television. He is, however, best remembered for his novels, which have been described as witty and meticulously-plotted espionage and police procedural thrillers, but which exemplify realism.

HRF Keating stated that
‘Smallbone Deceased’
was amongst the 100 best crime and mystery books ever published.
"The plot,"
wrote Keating, "
is in every way as good as those of Agatha Christie at her best: as neatly dovetailed, as inherently complex yet retaining a decent credibility, and as full of cunningly-suggested red herrings."
It featured Chief Inspector Hazlerigg, who went on to appear in later novels and short stories, and another series was built around Patrick Petrella, a London based police constable (later promoted) who was fluent in four languages and had a love for both poetry and fine wine. Other memorable characters around which Gilbert built stories included Calder and Behrens. They are elderly but quite amiable agents, who are nonetheless ruthless and prepared to take on tasks too much at the dirty end of the business for their younger colleagues. They are brought out of retirement periodically upon receiving a bank statement containing a code.

Much of Michael Gilbert’s writing was done on the train as he travelled from home to his office in London:
"I always take a latish train to work," he explained in 1980, "and, of course, I go first class. I have no trouble in writing because I prepare a thorough synopsis beforehand.".
After retirement from the law, however, he nevertheless continued and also reviewed for
‘The Daily Telegraph’
, as well as editing
‘The Oxford Book of Legal Anecdotes’
.

Gilbert was appointed CBE in 1980. Generally regarded as ‘one of the elder statesmen of the British crime writing fraternity, he was a founder-member of the British Crime Writers’ Association and in 1988 he was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, before receiving the Lifetime ‘Anthony’ Achievement award at the 1990 Boucheron in London.

Michael Gilbert died in 2006, aged ninety three, and was survived by his wife and their two sons and five daughters.

 

 

The Characters
Daniel John Calder

 

Born 1913, only son of Rev. Joseph Calder (Canon of Salisbury) and Sandra Kisfaludy (Hungarian).

Educated:
Bishop Wordsworth’s School, Salisbury and Universita di Perugia.

Reuters Foreign Correspondent, Athens, 1932; Budapest, 1934; Baghdad, 1937; Bucharest, Head Office, 1938.

Recruited to MI6,1935.

Languages:
(A) Standard-Albanian and Hungarian (B) Standard-Greek, Italian, Arabic, Russian

War service:
Pardy still classified. 1939-41 at Blenheim and Hatfield Special Interrogation Centres. Member of British Military Mission to Albania, 1944.

Joined JSSIC (E) June 1958.

Special interests:
Small arms; cello; history of the Peninsular War.

Club:
R.A.C.

Residence:
The Cottage, Hyde Hill, near Lamperdown, Kent. Tel: (ex- directory)

Blood group:
AB. Rh+

Samuel Behrens

 

Born 1910, second son and fourth child of Alfred Behrens and Marie Messenger, of Highgate, London.

Educated:
Shrewsbury (Oldhams House) and London University, and Heidelberg University, Specialised European languages. Taught at Munich High School, 1929-32; Baden-Baden, 1932-33; Leipzig, 1933-35; Berlin, 1935-39.

Recruited to MI6,1933.

Languages:
(A) + Standard-German (A) + Standard-French (A) + Standard-Greek, Italian, Russian

War service:
Still classified (it has been mentioned in
Reminiscences
of Franz Mulbach, Bonn, 1963, that S. B. was in Germany for two months prior to the first attempt on Hider’s life and supplied the sabotage device which failed to detonate in the Fuehrer’s plane).

Joined JSSIC (E) 1956.

Special interests:
Beekeeping, chess.

Club:
Dons-in-London.

Residence:
The Old Rectory, Lamperdown, Kent. Tel: Lamperdown 272

Blood group:
O. Rh+

Rasselas

 

Persian deerhound; by Shah Jehan out of Galietta.

Height:
32 inches. Weight: 128 pounds.

Colour:
Golden with darker patches. Eyes amber. Nose blue-black. Hair rough, with distinctive coxcomb between ears. Neck, long. Quarters exceptionally powerful. Legs, broad and flat.

Club:
Kennel Club.

Blood group:
(canine classification) A5

 

 

1
The Twilight of the Gods

 

The German artillery observation officer said, “I shall now proceed to range one gun on to the slit trench. If you will use your binoculars, gentlemen, you will observe it quite easily at the foot of the small knoll due east of where you are now standing.”

The small group of privileged spectators raised field glasses in gloved hands and focused them.

“The trench is exactly one and a half metres deep and one metre in width. It has been dug into chalk and flint. Owing to unavoidable discrepancies in the charges, it would not normally be possible to guarantee actually to hit the trench more than once in a hundred rounds.”

“I wager,” said General Runnecke, who commanded XIV Corps in the Banja Luka area of Yugoslavia and who was, therefore, nominally at least, the senior officer present, “that he did all his ranging before we arrived.”

“In his place I should have done so,” agreed the staff officer with the gunner tabs who was standing at his elbow.

“Fire!”

The report from the gun, sited some five thousand yards to their rear, arrived at the same time as the shell, which threw up a puff of white chalk and grey smoke just beyond the slit trench.

“Correct for line,” said the observation officer smugly. “Plus for range. I will drop fifty metres and repeat.” The second shell landed, if anything, slightly further forward.

“You will see what I meant when I spoke of the inaccuracy of a high explosive charge,” said the observation officer. “The range that time was shorter but the shell went further. I shall fire again at the same elevation.”

This one landed almost on the lip of the trench.

“Two plus, one minus,” said the observation officer. “I think we can accept that as the range. We will now repeat, using the new experimental fuse.”

There was a stir among the spectators. This time it was different. Instead of a dull report when the shell landed, there was the sharp, distinctive crack of shrapnel.

“Height of burst,” said the observation officer, “approximately ten metres. That should be very satisfactory.”

“Damned uncomfortable, if you ask me,” said General Runnecke loudly, and the officers laughed. The only man who appeared entirely serious, his gaze concentrated on the slit trench, was the single civilian among the uniformed group. He was a thin, serious, brown-faced man in his early thirties, with a pair of steel-rimmed glasses on his beaky nose. Despite the January weather, he was wearing only a thin raincoat.

He said, in good but clearly not native German, “By my estimation, seven and a half metres.”

The observation officer ignored this and said, “I shall order the same gun now to fire six rounds. This will avoid the necessity of ranging the other guns of the troop, but will produce the cumulative effect of a salvo of six guns.”

The six cracks followed each other at twenty second intervals. The height of burst was unmistakably consistent. As fast as one cloud of yellowish lyddite smoke shredded away in the breeze, another filled its place.

“Stand your troop down,” said the General. “We will inspect the target. Come along with me, Dr. Brancos.”

The whole group moved downhill towards the slit trench, the general with the civilian in the lead, followed by a stout, white-faced officer wearing the insignia of a
gruppenfuehrer
in the SS, the junior officers a decorous pace or two behind. At the edge of the trench they paused.

There were six men in it. They had been fastened there by a chain attached at both ends to posts hammered into the ground and passing through iron shackles round the ankle of each. Four of the men were clearly and horribly dead. Two of them were still moving. General Runnecke motioned to the junior officer behind him, who drew an automatic, stepped forward and shot them both carefully through the back of the neck.

“I think,” said the General to Dr. Brancos, “that we may regard the experiment as eminently satisfactory.”

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