Trouble Is My Name - Stephen Marlowe - ebook

Trouble Is My Name ebook

Stephen Marlowe

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A missing politician sucks Drum into the three-ring circus of Cold War Germany On the eve of becoming a vice-presidential candidate, Fred Severing vanishes in Germany, where he made his name twelve years earlier during the madness that followed World War II. To find the American, his party hires globe-trotting private detective Chester Drum, and it isn't long before Drum's investigation lands him in the Rhine River along with an elderly war criminal. Drum is meeting with Wilhelm Rust, a mid-level ex-Nazi, when Communist spies storm their boat. Drum jumps into the river, taking Rust with him, and inadvertently saves the ex-Nazi's life. His investigation may be all wet, but Drum isn't one to quit. Finding Severing will mean lying to West Germans, East Germans, and Nazis, and perfecting the triple-cross that is the favorite pastime of European Cold Warriors. Review Quote: "Very few writers of the tough private-eye story can tell it more accurately than Mr. Marlowe, or with such taut understatement of violence and sex." - The New York Times Book Review "Drum sleuths to his own beat; he is a strong private investigator, who hooks the audience in each tale, short or long." - Harriet Klausner Book Reviews "Marlowe's buoyant skill and credibility lie in the way he has put breath into [his] characters." -The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Biographical note: Stephen Marlowe (1928-2008) was the author of more than fifty novels, including nearly two dozen featuring globe-trotting private eye Chester Drum. Born Milton Lesser, Marlowe was raised in Brooklyn and attended the College of William and Mary. After several years writing science fiction under his given name, he legally adopted his pen name, and began focusing on Chester Drum, the Washington-based detective who first appeared in The Second Longest Night (1955). Although a private detective akin to Raymond Chandler's characters, Drum was distinguished by his jet-setting lifestyle, which carried him to various exotic locales from Mecca to South America. These espionage-tinged stories won Marlowe acclaim, and he produced more than one a year before ending the series in 1968. After spending the 1970s writing suspense novels like The Summit (1970) and The Cawthorn Journals (1975), Marlowe turned to scholarly historical fiction. He lived much of his life abroad, in Switzerland, Spain, and France, and died in Virginia in 2008.

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

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About the Book

A missing politician sucks Drum into the three-ring circus of Cold War Germany

On the eve of becoming a vice-presidential candidate, Fred Severing vanishes in Germany, where he made his name twelve years earlier during the madness that followed World War II. To find the American, his party hires globe-trotting private detective Chester Drum, and it isn’t long before Drum’s investigation lands him in the Rhine River along with an elderly war criminal.

Drum is meeting with Wilhelm Rust, a mid-level ex-Nazi, when Communist spies storm their boat. Drum jumps into the river, taking Rust with him, and inadvertently saves the ex-Nazi’s life. His investigation may be all wet, but Drum isn’t one to quit. Finding Severing will mean lying to West Germans, East Germans, and Nazis, and perfecting the triple-cross that is the favorite pastime of European Cold Warriors.  

Review Quote:

“Very few writers of the tough private-eye story can tell it more accurately than Mr. Marlowe, or with such taut understatement of violence and sex.” - The New York Times Book Review

“Drum sleuths to his own beat; he is a strong private investigator, who hooks the audience in each tale, short or long.” - Harriet Klausner Book Reviews

“Marlowe’s buoyant skill and credibility lie in the way he has put breath into [his] characters.” -The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

About the Author

Stephen Marlowe (1928–2008) was the author of more than fifty novels, including nearly two dozen featuring globe-trotting private eye Chester Drum. Born Milton Lesser, Marlowe was raised in Brooklyn and attended the College of William and Mary. After several years writing science fiction under his given name, he legally adopted his pen name, and began focusing on Chester Drum, the Washington-based detective who first appeared in The Second Longest Night (1955).

Although a private detective akin to Raymond Chandler’s characters, Drum was distinguished by his jet-setting lifestyle, which carried him to various exotic locales from Mecca to South America. These espionage-tinged stories won Marlowe acclaim, and he produced more than one a year before ending the series in 1968. After spending the 1970s writing suspense novels like The Summit (1970) and The Cawthorn Journals (1975), Marlowe turned to scholarly historical fiction. He lived much of his life abroad, in Switzerland, Spain, and France, and died in Virginia in 2008.

Trouble Is My Name

A Chester Drum Mystery

Stephen Marlowe

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2014 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2012 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1956 by Fawcett Publications, Inc.

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Kathleen Lynch

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-420-3

 

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All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Chapter One

THEY DRIFTED OUT OF the fog like a couple of wraiths.

Instinct alone must have told them I was there, waiting in the wet grey fleece in back of the Bundeshaus. But then, that was their line of work. They swarmed all over me—no rough stuff yet, but showing me they would know how to go about it. One of them got hold of my right arm above the elbow with a hand like a pair of pliers. The other fellow frisked me. There was nothing wraithlike about them now.

A practised hand triggered the spring release of my shoulder holster and the automatic popped out barely tugging my lapel.

“Mauser?” one of them said.

“Nein,” the other fellow answered in German. “It’s a Smith & Wesson Magnum, an American gun.”

I’d been in Bonn only three days and the German sounded harsh and unfamiliar to my ears. I could understand the words, though, and speak enough of them to make myself understood. But I was three thousand miles from home and beginning to think I was out of my depth.

“You are Herr Drum?” the gun expert said. His friend was still squeezing my biceps. It was a good guess. I’d been around to the Parliamentary Club, where Wilhelm Rust was staying, five times in three days. Herr Rust wouldn’t see me. Herr Rust wouldn’t see anyone who wasn’t endorsed personally by the Old Man. Then a C.I.A. agent who had been with me in the FBI about a hundred years ago told me that Rust was being moved by motor launch to a hotel in Bad Godesberg, Bonn’s twin city a couple of miles down the Rhine.

“Well, what is it?” a high, complaining voice called out in the fog.

I said: “Ja, I’m Drum.”

The gun expert said in a louder voice, “It’s the American private investigator again, Herr Rust.”

“I don’t want to see him. You know I don’t want to see him.”

Gun Expert jerked a thumb towards the Bundeshaus, a couple of hundred feet up from the water’s edge. You couldn’t see it through the fog, not even the lights in the windows. It was some fog. It was greyer than the white sea-smelling fogs which sometimes roll over Washington from Tidewater, Virginia, and it did not smell of the sea.

I shrugged and said, “The Magnum?”

“Nein, I’ll keep that.”

“Doesn’t Herr Rust pay you enough to buy your own?” I said.

Herr Rust called whiningly, “Tell the American to go away.”

I reached for the Magnum, but Gun Expert jerked it away. Something thudded against my head from behind and my legs went rubbery and the next thing I knew I was in a fight. The other fellow tried with the sap again. I fell away from it and it whistled by my ear, hitting nothing. I grabbed the extended arm, dropping to my knees and heaving. Gun Expert muttered something which they had never taught me in school German as the other fellow went sailing over my shoulder at him. They both went down and I went down after them.

“Hier!” Herr Rust screamed. “Sofort hier!”

There was a moment of complete stillness before Gun Expert thumbed the Magnum’s safety with a click like thunder. Footsteps came pounding across the dock. The Magnum looked like Big Bertha in Gun Expert’s fist. I came down feet first, kicking at the gun. It went clattering away. I scrambled after it on hands and knees. Gun Expert came scuttling for it too, like a big water bug after whatever hungry water bugs eat. I got there first and whirled with the Magnum, jamming the muzzle against Gun Expert’s face.

I stood up and said, “On your feet.”

I herded them all into a group, Gun Expert and the dazed fellow who had swung the sap and the guy who had come up from the motor launch and Herr Rust too. My head throbbed with pain. “What the hell,” I said in English, “all I wanted was my gun back. I wouldn’t have pushed it.”

But I was going to push it now. If Wilhelm Rust wanted that bad not to see me, then I figured my hunch had been right and it was worth the three days in Bonn and the soft lump on the head too to ask him what he knew of an American named Fred Severing, whom I’d come to Germany to find.

Gun Expert had a Mauser in a shoulder rig. I removed it and a big Luger which was tucked in the other fellow’s waistband and scaled them both into the river. I relieved the boatman of an oversized billy and it went after the artillery.

“Let’s get down to the boat,” I said. I was still speaking English.

“What do you want from me?” Herr Rust asked, also in English. It surprised me. They had given Wilhelm Rust a ten-year stretch at the Nuremberg trials. I had seen pictures of Herr Rust, the proud shoulders hunched, the jaw supported by unexpectedly delicate hands, the translating earphones wired to his head. The ten years had come and gone and now Wilhelm Rust, who had never once relinquished those earphones at the war crime trials according to the reports, spouted English at me.

We all tramped down through the fog across the dirty wood of the dock. The fog seemed to retreat in front and behind and on either side of us, as fog does, leaving us in a big bell jar of visibility. The launch was bobbing gently on the dark water at the end of the dock, long and sleek, with a cockpit and a canopy and probably fifty horses, inboard, to drive it. The cockpit had room up front for the pilot at the wheel, three rows of leather seats, some more open space in back and a leather-upholstered bench hugging its rear rim. I told the boatman to go forward, to kick the inboard over and keep both hands on the wheel after that. I sent the two bodyguards to the middle row of leather seats and had them sit there with their hands up on the back of the empty front row. Then Wilhelm Rust and I climbed aboard and sat on the upholstered bench at the rear of the cockpit.

“All right,” I told the pilot.

He said one German word. He said, “Where?”

“Wherever you were going,” I said. “Bad Godesberg, isn’t it?”

The launch rocked in time to the throbbing motor. The running lights probed into the fog and were swallowed by it and we got under way slowly.

“Bad Godesberg?” Herr Rust said, “I don’t understand.”

I settled back on the comfortable bench, pointing the Magnum forward. I told Herr Rust, “It’s simple. You wanted to go to Bad Godesberg, so that’s where you’re going. I wanted to talk to you, so I’m going along.”

That got only a grunt out of him, so I didn’t tell him about the gun. It was funny about the gun. I hadn’t been able to clear it through customs without the help of my C.I.A. friend. I like my Magnum .357. It’s small enough to carry in a shoulder rig and packs more of a wallop than a .45. In the end I’d taken it on through customs and got a permit for it too.

I was stubborn about the Magnum. I wouldn’t part with it. Because I wouldn’t, I was finally getting my interview with Wilhelm Rust. Because I wouldn’t and had taken it back from Herr Rust’s bodyguard the hard way, some people were going to die. But of course I didn’t know that.

Outside the bell jar of visibility the fog boiled and seethed, exploring the launch with an occasional tendril. I looked at it and saw nothing. I looked at the Magnum in my hand and saw only the Magnum.

I said two words. “Fred Severing.”

One of the body guards craned his neck to look at us, but I waved the Magnum at him and he turned around obediently.

Herr Rust chuckled and said, “What are you going to do after they deport you?”

That got a look from me. He was thin, far thinner than he had been at the trials, but that figured. And he looked old enough to be the father of the Wilhelm Rust who had been sentenced at Nuremberg ten years ago—in the later months of the trials set aside for the middle fry who had lacked the ingenuity to inject nitrogen bubbles into blood streams or the imagination to make lamp shades of cured human skin. A pouch of old man’s flesh hung from his chin, making his long neck seem oddly distended. His cheekbones were high, the skin drawn tight and glossy over them, like leather. His brow bulged over each eye, forming almost a hollow above and between them, and you had to probe for the eyes which were sunk deep into his skull in black wells.

“I’ll bite,” I said. “I’m going to be deported for what?”

“You told my secretary you were a private investigator, Herr Drum. Tell me, did you think my watchdogs also were private operatives?”

“Something like that,” I admitted.

Herr Rust said slowly, “I am a poor man. I could not have afforded their prices. They are agents of the German Federal Republic Security Police.”

It was maybe two miles from the dock behind the Bundeshaus to the docks at Bad Godesberg. We had come half a mile, hugging the west bank of the Rhine on which Bonn and Bad Godesberg are located. We couldn’t have been more than fifty yards from shore, but with the fog it could have been fifty miles. Chester Drum, I thought. A private dick from Washington, D.C., who had seen too many foreign-intrigue movies.

Very slowly I put the Magnum back into its rig. “I guess I owe you guys for a couple of guns,” I said in English.

Maybe they understood the language. Maybe it was the teeth. Speaking in English for the first time, Gun Expert said, “You’re under arrest.” It was excellent English.

I nodded. There was nothing I could do about that. “Does the West German government want to know about Fred Severing too?” I asked Wilhelm Rust.

“Severing isn’t very important,” Rust said.

Before I could tell him Fred Severing was slated for a crack at the vice presidency of the United States in the coming elections, something slammed into the motor launch.

A moment later we were boarded.

Chapter Two

THEY CAME FROM A Rhine River tugboat. Strip the fog from the river and the darkness from the night and they’re a common sight on the Rhine, their sidewheels churning the water to froth, their cables taut with the weight of the long coal and produce barges. This one had been waiting for us. Whoever had sent it knew Wilhelm Rust would leave the Bundeshaus by water for Bad Godesberg, as I had known. Whoever stood at its wheel knew the river and knew precisely what path our pilot would take through the fog.

The prow of the tug loomed high, the deck above it lost in grey lamb’s wool. The prow had struck broadside and kept driving after us, the diesel chugging, the sidewheel slapping the water. Off somewhere in the fog, a ship’s horn moaned its dirge.

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!