Excerpt of Freeze Frame by Peter May
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Munich, Germany, December 20, 1951
Erik Fleischer was a man who counted his blessings.
His wife was an attractive woman, hair cascading in golden
waves over square shoulders, a smile that lit her inner soul, and
spellbinding blue eyes. Still adoring after five turbulent years.
He had two wonderful children, blond, blue-eyed clones of
their mother. Magda’s genes had predominated over his own
He had survived the war virtually unscathed, inheriting his
parents’ Bavarian villa in this leafy suburb, establishing a lucrative
practice among the new, burgeoning middle class rising now
out of the ashes of Hitler’s madness.
The good life stretched ahead toward an unbroken horizon.
How could he have known that this night he would lose
As he sat reading the evening newspaper, he absorbed, almost
unconsciously, the peals of laughter emanating from the dining
room. Mother and children playing a simple board game. He
dipped his head to peer over his glasses and glanced through
the door toward them. And with the seeds of arousal sown by
the merest glance at Magda, rose ambition for a third, or even
He glanced at his watch, folded his paper and laid it aside.
“I’ll be back down in fifteen.”
Magda half-turned her head toward the living room. “Dinner
will be ready in twenty.”
His study was an elegant room, oak-panelled, one wall lined
with bookshelves that groaned under the weight of his father’s
books. Tall windows looked out across the boulevard to the
brooding darkness of the park beyond. Full-length velvet drapes
hung open, and he could feel the cold pressing against the glass,
like icy palms pushing flat against the panes. He drew the velvet
against the night and sat at his leather-tooled desk, patient files
neatly laid out under the soft light of his desk lamp. He checked
his diary. First appointment was at eight-thirty tomorrow. And he
felt the smallest grain of discontent at the thought of the endless
stream of pregnant women that would punctuate his days into
the foreseeable future. But he wasn’t going to let it darken his
mood. His blessings were still in the ascendancy. He pulled the
first of the files toward him and flipped it open.
The sound of the phone crashed into the ring of light around
him, and he reached into the darkness beyond it to lift the
receiver. The voice was little more than a whisper. Hoarse and
tight with tension.
“They’re coming! Get out! Now!”
He was on his feet, even before the phone went dead. He
heard his chair hit the floor behind him. The nearest window was
two paces away. He separated the drapes the merest crack, and
felt the soft velvet against his cheek as he peered beyond them
into a night filled now with demons. It has hard to see past the
haloes of light around the streetlamps below, but he was certain
that he could see a movement of shadows among the trees. No
time to think. He had put the possibility of such a thing far
from his conscious mind, but now that it was here he reacted
with what seemed like well-rehearsed efficiency.
Shaking fingers retrieved keys from his pocket and unlocked
his desk drawer. The metal of the army issue pistol felt cold in
his warm hand. He crossed to the walk-in cloakroom at the far
side of the room and threw open the door. Rows of coats and
jackets hung on the rail, shoes neatly lined up beneath them. He
lifted a heavy wool overcoat and slipped the gun into its pocket,
pulling it on over broad shoulders before stooping to pick up the
leather overnight bag he had prepared for just this moment.
He did not stop to think. There was no regret-filled backward
glance as he closed his study door and hurried along the landing
to the back stairs. No time for reflection or sorrow. To hesitate
would be fatal. Only briefly, as he hurried down the stairway,
did the image of Magda and the children in the dining room flit
briefly through his mind. No time to say goodbye. No point.
It was over.
Excerpted from Freeze Frame
by Peter May. Copyright © 2010 by Peter May.
Excerpted by permission of Poisoned Pen Press. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.