Authors: Peter Lovesey
BERTIE AND THE CRIME OF PASSION
BERTIE AND THE SEVEN BODIES
BERTIE AND THE TIN MAN
THE BLACK CABINET
BUTCHERS AND OTHER STORIES
CRIME OF MISS OYSTER BROWN
THE DETECTIVE WORE SILK
DO NOT EXCEED THE STATE
THE FALSE INSPECTOR DEW
THE LAST DETECTIVE
A MAD HATTER'S HOLIDAY
ON THE EDGE
THE SEDGEMOOR STRANGLER
SWING, SWING TOGETHER
UPON A DARK NIGHT
WOBBLE TO DEATH
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First published in Great Britain and the USA 2016 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
19 Cedar Road, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM2 5DA.
Originally published in Great Britain 1986 by Michael Joseph under the pseudonym
This eBook edition first published in 2016 by Severn House Digital an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited
Copyright Â© 1992 by Peter Lovesey.
The right of Peter Lovesey to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8612-5 (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-709-8 (trade paper)
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-770-7 (e-book)
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is purely coincidental.
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The idea for this novel originated with Vere Viscount Rothermere and I wish to express my thanks to him for allowing me to use and develop it in my own way.
George Greenfield demonstrated once again that the role of a top literary agent is to inspire and enthuse his authors as well as promoting their careers. He made a number of creative and practical suggestions and introduced me to a tenacious man who spent many hours with Rudolf Hess and finally gained his confidence: Lieutenant-Colonel Eugene K. Bird, the former US director of Spandau Prison. I wish to set on record my gratitude to Gene Bird for guiding me around Berlin and so frankly and generously answering my numerous questions.
Any blemishes or errors in the writing are mine alone.
The pilot stared.
Through the windscreen of his Messerschmitt, several thousand metres ahead, the North Sea ended in a dark shoreline.
England; the Northumberland coast, if his bearings were right. Above it, jutting through the mist and picked out in scarlet by the setting sun, a range of hills. But a
. He had expected one, the Cheviot, 816 metres high. He depended on this for his first sighting, the navigational key to his route inland. No doubt the Cheviot was one of those peaks, but which one?
Somewhere down there in the shadows were three destroyers, based between Holy Island and the coast. Any German pilot who strayed within range of their anti-aircraft guns would not be a pilot much longer. It was hardly a moment for indecision. Recalling a trick of Hitler's personal pilot, âFather' Bauer, the pilot sniffed, snapped his fingers, chose one of the peaks and steered straight for it.
His luck was in. Seconds later, he sighted Fame Islands well to his right. He was safely south of Holy Island as he crossed the shoreline at an altitude of 2,000 metres. The time was 2212 hours.
Saturday night over England; 10 May 1941. Alone, the Deputy FÃ¼hrer of the Third Reich had piloted a Messerschmitt 110 from Augsburg, a journey of 800 miles, including a detour to confuse the enemy.
At home in Germany, they would say it was impossible, that he must have come down in the sea. They could not have known of the planning he had put into this secret flight. Eleven months of preparation: studying the maps; perfecting the technique of flying the Messerschmitt 110; having it modified for longer flights; arranging for special radio signals as an aid to navigation; checking the phases of the moon and the weather reports; and even ordering a military tailor in Munich to make him the uniform of a hauptmann in the Luftwaffe. He wanted the British to be in no doubt that this was a German officer flying a Luftwaffe aircraft with the German black cross prominent on its wings and fuselage. He knew what they did to spies.
A stern test of courage lay ahead. He was to locate his target by moonlight, bale out and crash the plane. And he had never in his life made a parachute-jump.
Over the land hung that evening mist. He welcomed it. For the past hour, he had been in a clear sky, conspicuously open to attack. The Air Ministry in Berlin had promised a dense layer of cloud at 500 metres, but all he had seen so far were isolated patches that, from his position, had looked like pack-ice on the sea.
At full throttle, he dipped the plane towards the cover of the mist â barely in time, for in the void behind him had appeared the outline of a Spitfire. His plane carried no ammunition. A few minutes more, and the British fighter would have shot him out of the sky.
He dived clean through the mist from 2,000 metres and levelled out beneath it like a stunt pilot, perilously close to the ground. He had shaken off the Spitfire.
Down there below the mist, he could see several miles ahead. It was strange to have such clear light so late in the day, but the British were on double summer time, so it was only 9.15 p.m. at home, and he was also a lot farther north. Relishing the conditions, he hedge-hopped at speed, sometimes no more than five metres above ground, practically skimming the trees and farm buildings, actually waving to people in the lanes and cottage gardens. It was part exultation, part the satisfaction he felt each time he spotted a landmark he could identify. For on numerous sleepless nights, he had stared at the map he had pinned to his bedroom wall until it had become so imprinted on his brain that when he did sleep, he had dreamed of flying over British fields.
2220 hours. The Cheviot. The pilot gripped the joystick and raced up the face, judging it nicely. He was in his element: seven years before, he had won the air-race round the Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain. He had been congratulated by Lindbergh, his personal hero â after the FÃ¼hrer of course.
Due west was another peak: Broad Law, in the centre of the Scottish Southern Uplands. By now, the moon was streaking the mountains with faint white light.
Then, at 2240 hours, his destination: Dungavel, home of the premier Duke of Scotland, the Duke of Hamilton, a large stone mansion with a cone-shaped hill nearby. It
to be Dungavel; but seized with the finality of that jump into the unknown, he decided to postpone it and make a second run, from the west.
He flew on to the coast, out to sea, where he jettisoned the auxiliary fuel tanks fitted to enable the Messerschmitt to make such a journey. Then he took his bearings, banked and came in over Troon. By 2250 hours, he had spotted the reservoir south of Dungavel. He climbed to 2,000 metres, the height for his jump, and switched off the engines.
One would not respond.
After a thousand miles of continuous flight, the plane had been pushed to its limit, and the red-hot cylinders were igniting the petrol vapour. The engine continued to turn. Calmly, he waited for it to cool, stutter and stop. Then he reached up and opened the canopy roof.
This was when inexperience let him down. He was pinned against his seat by the force of air. He could not possibly bale out. And the plane was rapidly losing height.
The brain can work fast on the edge of disaster. He had once heard a tip from a Luftwaffe pilot with experience of Messerschmitts: you had to turn the thing upside down and fall out. This had got quite a laugh in the officers' mess at Augsburg. He was about to find out if the tip had been serious.
Possibly he half-disbelieved it, because instead of pulling the joystick to the right, he tugged it towards him. The plane swung into a startling loop, the blood rushed from his head and he momentarily blacked out.
Near the top of the upward arc, he forced the steering column away from him. Instead of completing the loop, the Messerschmitt hung for a moment nose upwards in the sky. In the instant before it plunged earthwards, he recovered consciousness. He thrust with his legs and felt a stab of pain as his leg struck some part of the fuselage. He fell clear and tugged at the ripcord on his parachute.
At about 10.45 in the evening of Saturday 10 May 1941, David McLean, head ploughman of Floors Farm, near Eaglesham, south of Glasgow, heard the drone of an aeroplane overhead. McLean, a bachelor in his mid-forties, lived in a single-storey cottage facing the farmhouse. He was about to get into bed. His widowed mother and his sister Sophia slept in the other bedroom.
McLean was used to aircraft, because the RAF trained their pilots nearby; they had a flight-path that brought them from the airport at Irvine up to Renfrew and then down over Eaglesham to Dungavel, ten miles to the south. Dungavel Hill served as a landmark before they returned to Irvine. But tonight there was something unfamiliar in what he could hear, a different resonance in the engine-note. While he was listening, the sound altered, as if one of the engines had cut out. Then it stopped altogether.
A few seconds later, he heard a muted impact, perhaps a mile away. The earth under the house gave a perceptible tremor.