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Saturday Book Tease
A Kommissar seeks redemption...in enemy territory.
Welcome, Readers, to another Saturday Book Tease.
This week’s selection continues my Checkpoint, Berlin detective series with book three, The Redemption of Joseph Heinz.
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This pulse-pounding crime thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat!
Detective Heinz is back and determined to redeem himself from a cold case that nearly cost him his career. Armed with a ledger containing the names of abducted girls, he embarks on an unsanctioned mission to uncover the truth behind Warehouse 214 and the notorious Russian mafia leader, 'the Butcher'. With his wedding to his beloved partner Birgitta Mahler quickly approaching, Heinz must fight to get back to her. But when he fails to check in, his protégé, Officer Elsa Kreiss, must call in a dangerous favor to save him. If she succeeds, Heinz will make it to the church on time, but if she fails, he'll arrive in a box.
If you enjoyed the electrifying suspense of Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park, then you'll be captivated by The Redemption of Joseph Heinz. Download now and begin reading today!
"Of the three(3) books in this story arc, this one was the absolute most thrilling!" ~ Brian P. Lane
Berlin, September 3rd, 2016
“The royal purple with silver and cream is the perfect color scheme, Birgitta. I’m beginning to think you picked out these colors especially for me.” Elsa Kreiss wrapped a swath of the purple satin around her body and posed in front of the mirror.
“Don’t be silly. The cream and silver are best for my wedding gown, and the purple makes Joseph look majestic. His vest will be royal purple. It sets off his eyes.” A dreamy smile danced on her lips.
Elsa bit the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing. The idea of Kommissar Joseph Heinz as ‘majestic’ tickled her. She did love the cranky old bear. He’d become a pseudo-father figure to her and her little brother, Anno, since he came into their lives three years ago. He was her hero after rescuing Anno from the Dutch pedophile who’d kidnapped him. After that, Heinz took it upon himself to look out for the two orphans going so far as to take Elsa under his wing and helping her get out of her former career as Berlin’s premiere dominatrix by assisting her in gaining enrollment in the police academy. She’d become a Schutzpolizei, and now, with the mentorship of Direktor Herman Faust at the Landiskriminalamt, she was on the fast track to advancing beyond patrol officer up the ranks to detective, and maybe one day, Inspekteur der Polizei, Chief of all policemen. A girl could dream, couldn’t she?
“I see you trying not to giggle, Elsa. You just wait until you’re as in love as we are. You will find yourself softening, trust me.” Detective Birgitta Mahler turned to the seamstress and handed over the patterns for the bridesmaids’ dresses. “I’d like the royal satin with silver piping.” She turned toward Elsa. “But her dress must be special, not exactly the same as the others.” The old seamstress nodded. Her dark-rimmed glasses sat low on her narrow nose. “The others have the bow over one shoulder, but Elsa’s should be completely strapless like the top of my gown. She’s my maid of honor, after all.”
The woman took notes while Elsa grinned. “I’m so excited for you!” She reached out and hugged Birgitta for the millionth time.
“Good lord, Elsa. Control yourself,” Birgitta gently admonished with a wry twist of her lips.
“I can’t help it. I’m a fool for love.”
“Does this mean you and Lukas…?” Birgitta raised her eyebrow.
Elsa sighed. “I don’t know yet. Things are going well and all, and we’re taking it one day at a time. It’s difficult enough just learning to be with someone new let alone a man you now share a bathroom with.”
“Well, that was cryptic.”
The seamstress came up behind Elsa and lifted her arms indicating how she wanted the redhead to stand. She then began taking measurements around her bust, waist, and hips.
“I didn’t mean for it to be, but I’ve never been one to be open about what I’m feeling. It wasn’t a desirable trait in my former career.”
Birgitta laughed. “I imagine not, but it has been three years now. There’s no need to shut off your emotions to Lukas. Scheisse, you’re always gushing around me.”
The smile returned. “That’s because you’re going to be Joseph’s wife, which maybe sort-of makes you almost my mother.” Elsa kept her eyes cast downward, unsure how Mahler would take her statement. She did love Birgitta like a mother, and everyone already knew that Heinz had become her father figure. Still, she worried that it might all be too much for the detective who already had a son of her own.
Birgitta set the patterns down and walked over to Elsa who still stood with her arms out. “Elsa, I couldn’t be happier to be marrying Joseph, and that includes having you and Anno as part of my family.” She tucked a stray strand of red curls behind the younger woman’s ear. “Your mother would be so proud of you,” she smiled, “just as I am. I’d be more than proud to someday give you away to a man who will love you as Joseph loves me. I’d be ever so proud to call you daughter.”
Elsa’s green eyes misted over, and she couldn’t stop the smile that burst forth on her full red lips. She threw her arms around Mahler and hugged her tightly. “Thank you.”
Birgitta dabbed at a single tear escaping her own brown eyes. The two women, who’d been through so much together, in so short a period of time, made it official—they were now family.
“Lift!” The seamstress tapped Birgitta on the shoulder and held her arms out indicating she must do the same. “I don’t have all day. If you want your dress completed on time, stop all this tearful nonsense in my shop and assume the position.”
Elsa giggled, and Mahler shushed her. “Don’t piss off Frau Kluge or she’ll deliberately ruin my dress out of spite.” Birgitta looked over her shoulder at the sour-pussed seamstress. “Is that not so?”
“Humph!” she grunted.
“Old-school is this one, Elsa. She survived the bombing of Berlin.”
Elsa’s eyebrows climbed with surprise, and more than a little skepticism.
Frau Kluge stopped and looked up at Elsa from where she knelt measuring the length of Birgitta’s legs noting the younger woman’s expression. “You think you know tough, Red? I knew tough. I survived war. I held my own when my family and I were interrogated by the Gestapo. Didn’t even break a sweat, and they knew when you broke a sweat. Made us all sit on hard cane chairs with paper beneath us while they grilled us all hour after hour without food or water or even a piss break.”
Elsa’s eyes widened. “What was the paper for?”
Frau Kluge’s expression hardened. “For absorbing the sweat of our palms and asses. The more wet the paper, the guiltier you became in their eyes. My own paper? Ha! I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. I stayed as cold as Siberia, and as dry as a virgin’s cu—”
“Frau Kluge! Language!” Birgitta interrupted.
Elsa chuckled. “I see. My hat’s off to you, Frau Kluge.”
“For what?” she asked, irritation in her voice.
“For surviving those assholes.” Elsa didn’t mince words.
Birgitta looked down at the seamstress. “Elsa here helped take down Yuri Ivchencko and the psycho who kidnapped the Russian girls from Charlottenburg. She’s a survivor too.”
The Frau’s gray eyebrow raised up in disbelief as she surveyed the slender young woman from head to toe. She pointed to the back of the room. “You’ll need to change. Strip down to your underwear so I can begin with the lining of your dress.”
Elsa walked behind the curtain in the corner of the small shop and removed her jeans, blouse, and belt. She looked down at her body still wearing her underthings.
“Well, are you going to stand back there all day?” Frau Kluge called out.
Elsa walked out, and stood on the small, round dais set before the three-way mirror. Frau Kluge stepped forward and stopped. Her eyes caught sight of hundreds of small white scars crisscrossing the younger woman’s torso and the front of her thighs. They were fading, but still visible. Several ran straight across her breasts disappearing beneath the fabric of her bra, but it was obvious they continued over the very sensitive areolas. Kluge looked at Elsa, and her expression softened. She nodded slowly, acknowledging the evidence of torture.
“My hat is off to you, Officer Kreiss,” she said softly.
The rest of the afternoon was spent finishing the initial fitting, and then shopping for shoes, gifts for the bridesmaids, and finally, picking out flowers. All in all, the day was productive. The wedding of Detective Joseph Heinz to Birgitta Mahler was on track. It was going to be perfect.
Joseph paced the short length of the cluttered corner office. “Denied? How can this be denied? We have credible evidence, Herman!”
Direktor Herman Faust sat with his hands folded on top of his desk watching his long-time friend, KriminalKommissar Joseph Heinz wear a path through the already threadbare carpet.
“I am aware, and so are they, but the case is nearly nine years cold, and now that both Ivchencko and Koslov are dead, the state is not willing to poke the bear, not for this. I’m sorry, my friend.”
Heinz stopped, his expression both tortured and exasperated. After all he’d been through since the day Marlessa Schubert went missing, all the countless missing girls’ cases thereafter, the kidnapping of Johann Kreiss, the Ivchencko/Koslov affair, and being shot and almost losing Birgitta, he’d finally stumbled upon a real clue. A ledger entry was found, documenting the girl’s kidnapping, and indicating where she’d been transported. Finally, there was a way forward, hope. To have such, and to have permission to pursue it denied, was wrong in Heinz’s eyes. The German State Police didn’t want to rock the boat by opening the cold case operating, he was sure, under direct orders from the chancellor herself. Germany sought to bring Russia, and its president, Mikhail Mishin, to heel, to reign in his attempts to take over Ukraine. A trade deal was tentatively offered at the start of the year, one that would bring Russia into the fold of the European Union, creating avenues for trade, but only if Mishin agreed to abide by the Minsk Agreement and commit to a cease fire in Ukraine. So far, he hadn’t, but the negotiations would surely end altogether if the state authorized an international investigation into sex trafficking through Saint Petersburg. Heinz was no fan of Mishin or politics. He cared only about justice.
He took a deep breath and sat down facing Faust. “How long have we known one another, Herman?”
Faust leaned back, shrugging his shoulders. A lock of his rapidly graying blond hair fell onto his forehead. He reached up and pushed it back. “Over twenty-five years, I’d say, why?”
“And when in the last twenty-five years have you known me to abandon a case?”
“I don’t like where you’re going with this, Joseph.”
“Just answer me.”
The men stared at each other, neither blinking. Faust’s blue eyes held steady with Heinz’s determined brown ones. Finally, the Direktor sighed. “Never. Not once. You’re a stubborn son of a bitch, that’s for sure.”
Heinz sat forward. “I will do this, Herman, with or without you.” He paused. “But I’d rather it be with you.”
Faust pushed his chair back and stood up. Slipping his hands in his pockets, he walked to the window, and looked down upon the busy street below.
“You know, I’ll be fifty-one in a month. Frau Faust is looking forward to my retirement in two years. I’ll have put in thirty years of service.” He turned his head, smiling, and added, “She wants to travel, would you believe?” He chuckled. “Can you imagine me as a tourist, Joseph? Tourists are the first to get ripped off wherever they go. Me? I’d be casing every place we checked into, reminding Helga to keep her valuables in the hotel safe instead of her toiletry bag like she seems intent on doing. The woman can’t seem to help herself; you know. She pulls money out of her wallet and counts it at the register,” he shook his head, “at the register, for Christ’s sakes! Nearly thirty years I’ve been telling her to never, ever count her money in the public eye, and she shushes me, Joseph! She says, ‘if someone steals my money, it’s only money, and maybe they just need it more than I do.’ What am I supposed to say to that?” He sighed. “She’s going to be the death of me, God bless her, that or sheer boredom. What’s an old cop like me supposed to do in retirement?”
Heinz waited in silence.
Finally, Herman faced him again, speaking in hushed tones.
“No one can ever know, Joseph. And if you get too deep, I won’t be able to help you. There will be no official acknowledgement whatsoever of your presence there. If asked, I will deny you like Judas to save my own ass, for Helga’s sake, of course.”
“Of course.” Heinz subdued a smirk.
“I can help get you in, but once you’re there, you’re on your own.”
“That’s more than I could have asked.” Heinz stood, extending his hand. Faust met him halfway and shook it. “Thank you, Herman.”
“Don’t thank me yet. Birgitta is going to be pissed at you if you fuck up her wedding day, so you better make sure you come back in time.” He shuffled through his rolodex searching for a card.
“I wouldn’t dream of missing it. It’s my wedding day, too, you know.”
“Yes, but she’ll blame me.” He sat down and reached for the phone.
“Why do you say that?” Heinz lifted one eyebrow in amusement.
“Because she’s smarter than you. She’ll know I helped you, and then it will be shit sandwiches for me from here until eternity. You think Helga won’t help her plot her revenge? Ha!”
Heinz grinned. He knew it was true, but he had no intention of missing his own wedding. He would get into Saint Petersburg with Faust’s help, find the warehouse, follow the clues, and somehow, bring Marlessa Schubert home, dead or alive. Then, maybe, he would find peace.
Continue reading The Redemption of Joseph Heinz here.
Are you a binge reader? Get the Checkpoint, Berlin Box Set here.
Michele’s Substack is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.