Excerpt from Brandenburg Gate by Henry Porter, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Brandenburg Gate

By Henry Porter

Brandenburg Gate
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2006,
    448 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2007,
    448 pages.

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Ahead of him was Molo IV, a broad stone structure that protruded into the harbor with quays on both sides and a huge single-storey warehouse along its spine. He passed through a gate near the old seaplane terminal, lifting a hand to a man reading a paper in a little cabin, and turned left to walk up the pier. On the way, he noted the few people around – two workmen stripping something from a roof, a man rigging a fishing rod, and some teenagers kicking a ball in the vast abandoned marshalling yard. They all looked plausibly engrossed. He walked on twenty yards, rounded a temporary fence that protected some pumping machinery and trudged up the pier, picking his way through the rusting iron debris and tufts of dead weeds that grew in cracks between the stones.

"Here he is," said Macy Harp, nudging Robert Harland with his elbow.

"Bang on schedule like the bleeding Berlin Express."

They both moved back from the doorway that led onto one of the heavy iron walkways running along outside the disused warehouse. This huge nineteenth-century complex lay at a right angle to Molo IV. They were about 200 yards from Rosenharte, who was moving away from them. Harland trained his binoculars on Rosenharte and reflected that both he and his quarry had much to lose if this went wrong. He had only been British Secret Intelligence Service station chief in Berlin for a year, and he was still on probation. This operation was one hell of a risk to take when he knew that most of the senior people at Century House regarded him as a field man without the necessary reserves of prudence. They couldn’t deny he always got results but these were attributed to flair and boldness, two characteristics less favored M16 than either the public or the intelligence service imagined. The head of the European desk had given him a certain amount of support together with Macy Harp – the best odd-job man and, when required, all-round creator of mayhem that the service had to offer – but Harland knew as well as anyone that many in Century House were actively hoping for the operation to fail. Harebrained, wild, impetuous – those would be the words murmured by his superiors across the lunch table at the Travelers Club – and his career would effectively be over.

He shook himself and concentrated on Rosenharte.  He was every bit the specimen that the Stasi had deployed in Brussels all those years ago. At the time of the Schering operation his fake passport had put him at thirty-two, which would make him about forty-seven now. He had looked after himself: he was tanned, still slim and there wasn’t a trace of grey in the sandy hair. But he betrayed a certain edginess and Harland could see he was moving without enthusiasm to the rendezvous point, glancing back and to his side every few paces. "How many Stasi have we got?" he asked quietly.

Harp’s habitually cheerful face squinted into a notebook. "About a dozen. Our Italian friends think there are more, as many as twenty, but that’s based on the crossings from Yugoslavia over the last forty-eight hours, not on observation in Trieste."

"And what do we make of the character with the straw hat?"

"At first we thought he was Stasi because we’ve seen him a couple of times. Jamie Jay took a look at him this morning, followed him to a fleapit hotel in the New Port."

"But how does he manage to be here ten minutes before Rosenharte?" Macy Harp withdrew one of a ration of five cigarettes from a slender silver case and lit up. "It’s simple. He saw Rosenharte out here when he did his recce this morning, realized he had started off on the same route this evening and decided to get here ahead of him." "Right," said Harland doubtfully. "But what the hell’s he doing here?" "Steady on, old chap. All will be revealed soon enough."

Excerpted from The Brandenberg Gate, (c) 2006 Henry Porter. Reproduced with permission of Grove Atlantic. All rights reserved.

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