A German Requiem (Book Three of the Berlin Noir Trilogy) by Philip Kerr

By Philip Kerr

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To Potsdam. There’s someone I know I can bribe at the headquarters of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. ’ He nodded solemnly. ’ He shook his head. ’ I nodded at his briefcase. ’ ‘You must have something. Think. ’ He lowered his head and uttered another sigh as he tried to recall a possession that might be of some value. ’ ‘Yes,’ he said gloomily, his eyes glazing over for a moment. This was sufficiently articulate. Things did not look good for Frau Novak. ‘Wait a moment,’ he said, dipping his hand inside the breast of his coat, and coming up with a gold fountain-pen.

He smiled thinly as he perceived the irony. I nodded sympathetically and decided to move things along before guilt got the better of him. ‘Now, as to my own fee. You mentioned metallurgy. ’ He nodded thoughtfully, and then more vigorously as the light dawned. ’ ‘Be back here in twenty-four hours,’ I told him. ’ Thirty minutes later, after leaving a note for my wife, I was out of the apartment and on my way to the railway station. In late 1947 Berlin still resembled a colossal Acropolis of fallen masonry and ruined edifice, a vast and unequivocal megalith to the waste of war and the power of 75,000 tonnes of high explosive.

For what felt like hours, but wasn’t quite two, I sat silently nursing a large and inferior-tasting brandy, smoking several cigarettes and listening to the voices around me. When the tip-collector came to fetch me his scrofulous features wore a triumphant grin. I followed him outside and back into the street. ‘The lady, sir,’ he said, pointing urgently towards the railway station. ’ He paused as I paid him the balance of his fee, and then added, ‘With her schätzi. A captain, I think. ’ I didn’t stay to hear any more and walked as briskly as I was able in the direction which he had indicated.

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