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
    Apr 2007, 448 pages

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Print Excerpt

Rosenharte had seen the restaurant on the canal and thought that it looked expensive. He was about to protest, when one of the boys shouted at them to take up the slack on the chain and begin hauling the body out of the water. They both looked over the quay to see that it had snagged on a protruding stone. At that moment two policemen jogged from their car to help pull the man over the edge. The Englishman knelt down and began rhythmically pumping at the man’s back. Water began to dribble from the mouth but when the cough he was hoping for didn’t come, he rolled the man over, felt his pulse and listened to his chest. His hands moved expertly around the body, at one point slipping inside his jacket. Then he took hold of the nose and chin and pushed the head back slightly. No sooner had he touched the man’s lips with his own than he recoiled, wiping his mouth furiously on his shirt and spitting on the ground. One of the policemen attempted to take over, but the Englishman pulled him back saying there was something wrong.  "Attenzione, Signore, non e buono."

A sense of contagion swept the boys who had just clambered out of the water and they all began to back away from the body. Rosenharte looked down with a candid lack of emotion at first but then bafflement and shock hit him. He wondered what the sudden extinction of this ordinary human being meant for him. Things like this didn’t just happen.

From the warehouse, Robert Harland watched the police car with Rosenharte inside disappear through the Old Port gates, followed by the ambulance carrying the body, and considered whether his operation was compromised. He too was certain that the struggle with the man on the pier and the death were significant. He turned to Cuth Avocet – the gaunt figure known throughout British SIS as the Bird – who had slipped up a back stairway to join them in the dusk of the old leather store. "What the hell was that about?" he asked.

"Search me," said the Bird. "I guess we’ll know a bit more when Jamie reports back."

"At least he was in position," Harp said.

"Point taken," said Harland. He looked out over the water. "We’d better get back to the van and start preparing the watch on the restaurant." "The fellow’s hardly going to feel like meat and two veg after someone’s just tried to do him in," said the Bird lazily.

"It didn’t look as though he was trying to kill him," said Harland. "I watched the whole thing. At the end Rosenharte was trying to help him. Let’s be going."

The Bird put out an arm." Perhaps you should wait for the area to clear first. There’s a couple of bogies down there." He pointed to two men who’d materialized from beneath them and were making for the dock gates.

"That makes . . ."

"Fourteen," said Harp.

"So now we know what we’re up against," said Harland.

Half an hour later, Harland sat in the back of the black Volkswagen van with Jamie Jay, sorting through the contents of the black leather wallet that was still swollen from immersion in the Adriatic. Harland held up an identity card to the light and read out the name Franciscek Grycko. "What’s a bloody Pole doing here? The Stasi and the Polish spooks are barely on speaking terms. Normannenstrasse wouldn’t involve them in something like this. They’re considered far too insecure." Jay read one of the business cards, which had fallen out in a little wad. "It says Grycko is a sales representative of a shoe business – International Quality Shoes, Wroclaw."

"Shoe business!" said Harland contemptuously.

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

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