Book 3 of the Busker Series
In Germany, Alex is given a lift by Abigail Eve, a black US Air Force captain. They stop at a fast food restaurant in the town of Rothenburg. A few minutes later, three junkies come in. After creating a scene, the kids run off, followed by a concerned nun, and then as Alex and Abigail leave, a bomb explodes, killing her and hospitalising him. He wakes to find Gunther Klein, a reporter, at his bedside.
After Alex is discharged, Klein investigates. Who was the nun? Why were the junkies in the restaurant? To keep Alex safe, Klein sends him to his ex-wife Sigi’s family, but when Alex discovers Sigi is part of what happened—and that the US military want to arrest him—he flees. In Rothenburg train station, trying to make the price of a ticket to anywhere with his fiddle, he meets an elderly black man. It’s Abigail’s father, jazz trumpeter Luther Eve, come to see where his daughter died.
With Luther’s help, Alex escapes to the old East Germany, where he uncovers a plot between ex-STASI officers, a cynical American soldier and an ex-terrorist who has assumed a startling new identity.
Drugs, misplaced idealism and family betrayals come to a head in Hamburg’s red light district, where Alex must make the hardest choice of his life.
....A German motorway intersection in October, the light fading fast, freak weather. One apple. No money.
And no lift, with about an hour of the day left, at a bad junction with no lighting.
If I didn’t get picked up very fast, it was a walk into Kassel, maybe three kilometres. Then what? I fingered the damp fifty euro note in my pocket. Eat hot and sleep rough? Or the other way round? A depressing choice. The only thing that would save me from it was a lift -a long one, south, maybe right into Switzerland. Yes, a long lift with a driver who didn’t mind me sleeping -and then, tomorrow, enough decent weather to let me work the street somewhere and make the price of the rest of the journey by train or bus. How long would it take? I turned back to the motorway. The cars had their headlamps on, now. I leaned back against the sign’s metal stanchion, closed my eyes and tried to plan.
Eat hot, I decided, there would be shelter somewhere -Kassel would have a railway station. If the local cops were inclined to blindness, if I could keep the junkies and winos at bay, a night could be grabbed in the waiting room. Three kilometres, an hour’s slog on foot with my stuff... I’d try it -but in the meantime, I had to eat something.
The hail endorsed my decision by finally stopping. As my hand tightened on the fruit in the fiddle case’s top compartment, I heard another engine. One last try? I stood up too quickly, felt the teeth of the case lock gouge skin from the back of my hand. I was ready to fling out my arm -and then, apple in hand, I paused.
An ancient Volkswagen, stickers everywhere, one wing all but rusted away, the front bumper held on by string. Only one wiper was working. The thought came fast; what was this vehicle doing on an Autobahn? The Germans were fanatic about roadworthiness. And the driver was revving too much, crunching the gears...
But still, a chance. I jerked out my hand -and lost my grip on the apple. It arced away, glanced off the car’s rusty bonnet and lodged behind the single wiper, jamming it. The car slewed to a halt. The door opened. The driver got out. I saw the back of an olive green jacket and a tightly cropped helmet of dark hair. A black hand reached across and dislodged the stuck fruit. The figure turned.