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Authors: Peter Lovesey

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BOOK: The Secret of Spandau
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‘Come on!'

Becker was back in the Golf with Alfred, over the grass, into the fast lane and in pursuit. Ahead, the Lada was under some kind of control, but clearly too handicapped to burn off the VW.

‘They're trying to make it back to the prison,' Becker told Alfred.

The prison wasn't far ahead. They were already past the red-brick barrack-blocks and approaching the trees that partly screened the entrance. The limping Lada slewed off Wilhelmstrasse on to the cobbles.

As the Golf skidded to a stop a few metres away, Becker saw that the doors of the Lada were open and the passengers were already heading for the blue prison gates. Two men and a girl. One of the men was trying to resist.

‘It's Red,' Becker shouted as he snatched his gun and leapt from the car.

A shot screamed past him and smashed into the side of the Golf. The Russian chauffeur was behind the Lada, trying to give cover. Alfred peppered the brown saloon with gunfire and the chauffeur fell.

Becker raced forward a few paces and then had to take cover behind the Lada. The KGB officer who had been in the back was brandishing a silver automatic.

They had reached the prison gates. Heidrun was shouting into the grille. Suddenly Red broke loose and threw himself against the KGB man. They both fell. The gun clattered across the cobbles.

Heidrun started forward to recover it. Becker pulled the trigger and picked her off. Her body thudded against the prison gates as the bullets ripped into her flesh.

The KGB man struggled upright and was hit by the same volley. His hands clawed at the prison door.

Becker sprinted forward and grabbed Red. There was shouting from inside the prison gate. With Alfred's help, he hauled Red across the cobbles and thrust him into the back of the Golf.

Soviet guards streamed out of the prison gate and stepped over the bleeding bodies to fire at the accelerating Golf as the
Fluchthelfer
made their getaway.

‘So you're back in Berlin?' Becker remarked conversationally to Red.

50

The following afternoon, Red and Jane took a taxi to Rominter Allee to see Hess's adjutant, Leischner. Red was using a walking-stick. The doctor who had removed the bullet and dressed his leg had promised him that the muscle-fibre would not take long to heal. The soreness in both legs from the kicking the guards had given him had left him needing the stick anyway. He also had a cracked rib and a cut eye that had required stitching.

The shooting incident outside the prison was headlined in most of the morning papers. General Vanin and Heidrun, erroneously described as an un-named Soviet diplomat and his German interpreter, were dead. The chauffeur was in intensive care. There were close-up pictures of bullet holes in the prison gates. No one appeared to know the purpose of the shooting, and the Russians were making no statement. There was heavy speculation about the group responsible. Some papers plumped for neo-Nazis, while others guessed at Soviet dissidents based in the West.

Red told Jane, ‘We've got to make sure when we write this thing up that people like Dick and Cal are given the credit they deserve.'

‘And Edda Zenk,' added Jane.

‘Right. And that guy of Willi's who was shot in the ambush.'

‘So many,' Jane said, shaking her head. She was silent for a moment and then told him gravely, ‘And you're still terribly at risk. Red, they won't give up.'

‘The KGB?'

‘And the others.'

‘Our lot?'

‘The lot who murdered Dick. MI5, SIS or some other group we've never even heard of. Dick didn't crash accidentally. They were tailing us in England and they followed him to France.'

Red agreed. ‘He found something. We know from Hess that de Gaulle was a key to the secret.'

‘But why did Dick have to be
killed
? Just to preserve the fiction that Churchill and the British establishment wouldn't have any truck with Hitler?'

‘Not only that, love. There's another fiction that every British government since the war has connived at.'

Jane nodded, sighing. ‘You mean that the Russians are the only ones who want to keep him in Spandau.'

‘It's the proverbial can of worms,' said Red. ‘Everyone wants to keep the lid on – our lot, the Russians, the diplomats and the secret service.'

‘Which is just the point I was making!' Jane said in desperation. ‘You're on their hit-list.'

‘Not for long, love. Once we're in print, nobody will care a monkey's about Red Goodbody.'

‘So why aren't you in a safe place with a typewriter?'

‘I promised the old man.'

‘Isn't it just inviting more trouble?'

‘I told him if I got out, I'd deliver it.' He turned Hess's ring thoughtfully on his finger. ‘What a jerk! Who else but me would get an exclusive with the most famous prisoner in the world and come out with nothing on tape? Not so much as a signed statement. Just a bloody ring.'

She summoned a smile. ‘Why don't you give it a rub and see what happens?'

‘I'm trying to keep a low profile.'

His self-reproach was really meant, so Jane reminded him, ‘You got the facts on Churchill's dealings with Hitler. That's the biggest story you or I will ever handle.'

‘
Most
of the facts. I wish I'd got the names of the right-wing rebels who plotted to overthrow Churchill.' He grinned. ‘I've known easier interviews.'

‘Will there be any repercussions for Hess?'

‘He'll stand a better chance of getting out when the story has broken.'

‘I mean in the short term.'

Red shook his head. ‘Reading between the lines, everyone is covering up like hell in Spandau, pretending nothing happened. He'll play along. He's wise to the game.'

The taxi drew up at the U-Bahn station. They settled the fare and started slowly along Rominter Allee. Red put his free hand around Jane's shoulder.

Hauptmann Leischner was expecting them, although Red hadn't mentioned Hess's gold ring when he phoned. The purpose of the visit was ostensibly to pass on a convivial message from an old comrade in arms. So they were admitted to an old-fashioned living-room with oak furniture, family portraits and a collection of ornamental beer-mugs. They sat side by side on a leather sofa. A black shepherd-dog pricked its ears and watched them from its basket.

Leischner must have been around sixty-five, but he looked spry enough for ten years less, with thick silver hair and blue eyes that gave nothing away when Red filled him in on the background to the visit. He was civil, reserved and alert. Even the news that Red had penetrated Spandau's security system and talked to Hess appeared not to impress him unduly.

There was no reason to prolong the suspense, so Red slipped the ring off his finger and handed it to Leischner. ‘He asked me to give you this.'

The blue eyes narrowed. Leischner took the ring and examined it closely. He went to the window to get more light on it. ‘So everything you have told me is true,' he said, after an interval. ‘In that case …' He snapped his fingers. ‘Lumpi!'

The dog rose from its basket and trotted towards him. For a frightening moment, Jane thought it was being turned on them. She saw Red's hand feel for his stick. But at a signal from its master, Lumpi lowered itself and settled on the carpet.

Leischner crossed the room and stooped to move the dog-basket aside. Then he rolled back one corner of the carpet and its underlay. He took a penknife from his pocket, opened it and eased the blade betwen two of the floorboards. A section of board came up. He put his hand into the cavity and took out what looked like a steel deed-box. He blew off some dust and carried it across the room to Red.

‘My orders are to hand this over in exchange for the ring.'

Red glanced at Jane, shrugged and held the box on his knees.

‘There is also the key, of course.' Leischner snapped his fingers again and Lumpi came to heel. The key had to be removed from a small metal container on the dog's collar. Leischner handed it over.

Red unlocked the box and took out a brown manilla folder, from which he withdrew a sheaf of paper typed through carbon. The top sheet was headed:

MEMOIRS, 1894–1941

Rudolf Hess

Lost for words and shaking his head, Red leafed through the flimsy sheets of double-spaced typing. A script of over three hundred pages. Finally, he managed to say, ‘I thought every copy of this had been destroyed.'

‘There has to be a copy for the author,' Leischner pointed out with an unshakeable German respect for procedure. ‘Obviously it was not possible for him to keep it in Spandau, so when Fraulein Zenk finished the typing, she delivered it into my care. I was instructed to keep it hidden until and unless he sent an unimpeachable signal from the prison. He obviously reposes the greatest trust in you.'

Jane turned and looked at Red with a flush of pride.

Nothing else was said.

BOOK: The Secret of Spandau
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