The Defeated Aristocrat
After spending the last months of the Great War as POWs, Wolf Mau and his fellow soldiers are relieved to be back in Germany. Their homeland is defeated, starving, and broken – they didn’t expect a welcome home party. But neither did they anticipate murder …
A killer is stalking the medieval streets of Konigsberg. A killer who specialises in kidnapping demobbed soldiers … before torturing them using medieval methods and leaving their mutilated corpses in the city’s red light district.
With senior police officials more concerned with politics than crime-solving, it falls to Wolf to hunt down whoever is committing these sadistic crimes – before he and his remaining friends find themselves on the growing list of victims …
‘Dedleff Gluck has been murdered. I must go to Lilli.’
Carriage House, Engels’s Brewery, Hoker Strasse, Konigsberg, Saturday January 11th1919
Helmut jerked into consciousness. Disorientated, he stared at the unfamiliar surroundings before the unaccustomed warmth and smell of food prompted his memory. He smiled. Who would have thought Dolf Engels would turn out to be his saviour?
The couch was comfortable but his skin was itching. Much as hated the thought of leaving the office he needed to wash. He reluctantly threw back the rug and left the sofa. He’d visited the lavatory when he and Dolf had arrived. It was at the opposite end of the building, clean, but basic with bare concrete floor and walls. It had also been freezing cold.
He rummaged in his kit bag for his soap and razor and opened the door. The air outside the office was bitter. Draping the rug around his shoulders like a shawl, he picked up the lamp and stepped into the carriage house.
The lamplight cast eerie shadows that jumped out at him as he walked the length of the building. He was glad when he was able to thrust the bolt across the inside of the washroom door. He set the lamp on the floor, used the toilet, immersed his hands in water that felt as though it held needle-sharp shards of ice and tried – and failed – to rub his soap to lather. He decided to take Dolf’s advice and boil a kettle so he could wash and shave in warm water. He couldn’t wait to return to the office. He couldn’t be that dirty after cleaning himself up in the station earlier that day. Perhaps he could wait until morning …
He left the washroom. The office light shone; a beacon at the far end of a darkened hall populated by threatening silhouettes. They loomed around and over him, assuming monstrous shapes as he rushed back to the warmth. Misjudging a distance he collided painfully with a waggon wheel. He heard a sound. A new one he didn’t recognise.
Hairs prickled on the back of his neck. He called out.
His voice wavered. He quickened his step and ran into the office. He took a deep breath and slammed the door behind him.
Something pressed against his neck. He tumbled headlong into darkness.