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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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  • First Published:
    Mar 2006, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2007, 448 pages

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Print Excerpt


"Where’s Cuth?"

"Having a drink over there on the seafront. He can see everything from where he is. The Italians have taken pictures, so we’ve got a complete gallery back at his place."

"He’s too far away. Get him nearer."  Harland couldn’t help showing his irritation.

Harp turned to him." Come on, Bobby, we’re all doing this for the love of it – and you. Jay’s taken leave to help out and Cuth Avocet’s given up a week on the Tweed. "

"It’s an official operation."

"I know, I know. Still, you can’t deny that the Office hasn’t exactly given you all the support you need."

Harland said nothing. Was it that obvious?

"Ah, I’ve got Jay," said Harp a few moments later." He’s lurking in one of the ruined sheds in the centre of the pier. You see him?"

"Right . . . look, I appreciate you giving your time, Macy, but I want you to understand that this does have the chief ’s blessing. It’s very important. Could save a lot of lives."

"I’m sure you’re right, Bobby," said Harp amenably. He looked around and sniffed the air. "Christ, this place smells. What the hell was stored in here?"

"Hides. Uncured leather, I imagine."

Harp looked around. "You know the port machinery was entirely powered by water? Every crane, pulley, lift was powered by compressed water. Hydrodynamic power. Bloody amazing what they got up to in the nineteenth century."

"Yes," said Harland without interest. "Are we certain Rosenharte didn’t make any calls from his hotel phone once he had found the note?" "Can’t be sure," said Harp. "We know the place is crawling with Stasi and they’re likely to have set up a way of communicating with him without us knowing. The hotel is not the easiest place to watch."

"I bloody well hope they don’t think we’re here. The idea is that it’s just Annalise. If they get any hint of us we’re finished."

Harp nodded. "Tell me about chummy down there. How come he’s going to meet a woman he knows is dead?"

"Because the Stasi have forced him."

"But why didn’t he tell them she was dead?"

"Because he couldn’t – not back in 1974 and especially not now. Suffice to say we put him in — "

"An impossible position. I see that, but how – the girl’s death? Was he compromised? Has he been working for you?"

Harland remained motionless behind his binoculars.

"There’s something I’m not getting," said Harp.

"That’s right, Macy." He wasn’t about to tell him everything, and anyway it was far too complicated.

Harp nodded. He knew better than to press the point." Christ, I’m not sure how long I can take this smell."

Rosenharte caught sight of the man with the straw hat issuing from a ruined building on his right and coming down the pier towards him. Rosenharte slowed, then stopped and pressed the little button on the side of the device taped to his chest. The man was weaving like a drunk. As he got closer Rosenharte was able to get a measure of him. The little round beer paunch and poorly cut suit jacket unambiguously announced a citizen of the German Democratic Republic. His gaze was fixed on Rosenharte and there was little doubt that he was making straight for him. For a few seconds he expected some kind of violence, but then the man seemed to stumble, clutched at his thorax and cursed before brushing off the hat and rushing the few feet to where Rosenharte was standing. At the last moment he tried to dodge out of his path, but the man lunged to the right, snatched at his shirt and gripped it with such force that Rosenharte instinctively lashed out. The man looked aghast, and only then did Rosenharte understand that the face below him was contorted with pain and fear. He kept putting one hand to his throat and was searching wildly about him. A part of Rosenharte registered disgust at his breath and the foam that had gathered at the corners of his mouth, but he gripped him by the shoulders and told him in German to be still and he would try and find him some help. As he said it, he took in a lined brow beaded with sweat, two indentations on the nose where a pair of spectacles habitually rested, a filthy, frayed shirt collar and a day’s growth of stubble. He shook him, looked into his eyes – there was no malevolence in the expression, merely panic – and told him again that he must help himself by calming down. He tried his halting Italian, but reverted to German and lowered his voice.

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

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