Thursday Sampler: She was not yet ready to die.

Read an excerpt from my historical thriller, Secrets of the Dead, set during the early days of World War II.

Ambrose Lincoln is one of the government’s prized operatives, a trained assassin, a man whose past is continually erased by mind control tactics and shock treatments. His days have no meaning. He no longer fears death. As far as he is concerned, a man without a memory is a man who’s already dead.

From Germany come rumors of a madman threatening to rule Europe and maybe the world. On the Night of Broken Glass, his brown shirts and stormtroopers move into Baden-Baden and begin their methodical termination of the Jews.

In America, so far away, the violence is nothing more than a protest over a Jewish boy who murdered a German diplomat because the Third Reich had removed and maybe killed his family. It was simply a case of vandalism that got out of hand.

No one is concerned, and the American government wants to keep it that way. No one in Washington wants to go to war with Hitler, and President Roosevelt continues to preach neutrality. But word is leaked that one Jewish photographer took pictures of the rampage of brutality and murder that night. He was killed, but his daughter is in hiding with the film.

Ambrose Lincoln is dispatched to Baden-Baden with one charge. Find the film and bring it back. It will tell the truth. It will uncover the lies. The photographs will reveal to the world the sadistic threat that exists for everyone if Hitler’s mad march isn’t stopped. His mission is to uncover the deadly secrets that his own government doesn’t want him to find, secrets that can change history.

Sampler:

THE MUSIC DIED away in Le Perroquet. Dijango Reinhardt had put away his guitar and was taking a break. He had slipped into a back room with a bottle of hard liquor and a lady in violet, similar to the color of midnight when the moon was high in the sky.

Those who had been listening to him play were on their feet, snapping their fingers, trying to get a waiter’s attention, ordering more wine and laughing in quick, harsh bursts of frivolity. The dancers remained where they stood, arm in arm, in love forever, in love for the moment, in love for ten dollars, and ten dollars could buy a lot on the dark side of Paris.

A thick veil of cigarette smoke clustered around the chandeliers and hung above the tables like a yellow fog when the wind forgot to blow. It was a good time to leave.

Herschel Grynszpan squeezed Corinne’s hand in his, tried to smile, and failed miserably. The German officer had walked past their table, paused a moment with a curious frown, and stared at them, cocking his head and squinting to see them better in the dim light. Corinne forced a smile. It was ignored. Herschel sipped his wine in hopes that the glass would hide at least part of his face.

The German took out a small notebook from his coat pocket, jotted down a few words, nodded to Corinne without a word, and moved on toward the door.

“See,” Corinne whispered, “you are safe here.”

“He knows.”

“You simply fear the Germans.”

Herschel glanced down at the postcard on the table. Did the German see it?Had he read the words? Did he know about the Jewish families being taken in Hanover, rounded up like animals, sent to God knows where? A jail? A prison? A slaughterhouse? Worse?

“The German will be back,” he said.

“I have friends,” Corinne said. “They will protect you.”

“No.”

Herschel rose to his feet.

“They will hide you.”

“They will sell me,” he said.

“What makes you say that?”

“When someone is threatened with death,” Herschel said, “and he knows it is not his time to die, then he will tell the Germans exactly what they want to know.”

“Then you don’t know my friends.” Her voice had grown angry.

Herschel looked down into the worried face of the girl. She was still holding his hand, refusing to let go. “It’s best if I just get up and walk out of here,” he said.

“For you?”

“For us all.”

“I will never betray you,” Corinne said. A tear blemished her face.

“And I will never let them take you. If I am gone, they will not bother you.”

“Where will you go?”

“Someone has to die.” Herschel had said it once. He said it again. He turned and walked away, leaving Corinne struggling for words.

“I will never see you again?” she whispered.

Only her own ears heard the question.

Herschel Grynszpan had walked into the night.

It was as though he had crawled into a grave and pulled the dirt down on top of him.

Corinne wanted to run after him.

But the German was out there.

Waiting for him.

Waiting for her.

She let him leave alone.

Corinne was not ready to die.

Please click HERE to find Secrets of the Dead on Amazon.

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