I have waited a long time for today. But it has finally arrived!! If you are a frequent visitor, then you know that I am a big fan of The Story Plant’s imprint. Every author that I have read has gone on my “authors to read” list. And today’s guest is on that list. He is visiting today, with his sequel of Voices Of The Dead, as a stop on his virtual tour with Partners In Crime Tours. Buckle up. His newest novel is quite a ride!! Please help me welcome back, Mr. Peter Leonard!!!!
Peter Leonard’s debut novel, QUIVER, was published to inter- national acclaim in 2008, and was followed by TRUST ME in 2009, and VOICES OF THE DEAD and ALL HE SAW WAS THE GIRL in 2012. BACK FROM THE DEAD is his fifth novel.
Connect with Peter at his website here or on facebook .
Peter Leonard’s jaw-dropping VOICES OF THE DEAD introduced us to two mortal enemies: Holocaust survivor Harry Levin and Nazi death angel Ernst Hess. Now, their struggle reaches its dramatic conclusion in BACK FROM THE DEAD.
Bahamas, 1971. Ernst Hess, missing and presumed dead, regains consciousness to find himself stuck in a hospital bed on a strange ward in a foreign country. He must do what he needs to do to get his life back and to finish the job he has been doing for decades.
Harry believes he has already stopped Hess. When he finds out that the war criminal has somehow survived, Harry must do the only thing he can do – kill Hess again – even if it means crossing continents and putting his life and the lives of those that matter to him on the line.
Action-packed and darkly humorous, BACK FROM THE DEAD is the unforgettable conclusion to a story that launches Peter Leonard into the pantheon of great suspense novelists.
Read my review here.
Harry pulled in the driveway, parked and went in the side door. He expected to see Colette in the kitchen, starting dinner. She was going to make sauerbraten, potato dumplings and red cabbage, an authentic German meal. He’d been thinking about it all day and he was hungry. Colette was a terrific cook, and that was another benefit of living with her. He threw his keys on the counter, hit the message button on the answering machine. Another one from Galina.“Harry, you going to call me one of these days?”
No, he said to himself. Walked into the foyer, glanced in the den and moved into the living room. Someone was sitting in his leather chair, legs crossed on the ottoman. The man had dark shoulder-length hair and wore black jeans, a white shirt and a black leather jacket.
“I don’t think you’re a burglar,” Harry said, “or you’d be looking for the silver, so tell me what you’re doing in my house?”
“I stopped by your office. We could have handled it there, but you were too busy to see me,” he said with an accent that sounded like he was from Berlin.
“You buying or selling?”
“I am trading.”
“For what?” Although Harry had a pretty good idea.
“Where is Ernst Hess?”
“I’d try his estate in Schleissheim or his apartment in Munich. Maybe start by talking to his family and business associates?”
“I know he came here to see you.”
“Safe for now. Tell me about Herr Hess.”
Harry pulled the Colt from under his shirt and aimed it at him. “I’ll tell you what. You want to trade, I’ll trade Colette for you. We can start there, see how it goes.”
“Put the gun away. You are not going to shoot me or you will never find her.”
The guy got up and came toward him. He was tall, six two, six three, and looked like he was in shape. Harry pulled the hammer back with his thumb. “First one’s going to blow out your knee cap. You better hope there isn’t a second one.” That seemed to persuade him. The German froze.
“I’m going to give you another chance. Where’s Colette?”
“Not far from here.”
“Let’s go see how she’s doing.”
“I have to call, tell them we are coming.”
“How many are there?”
“We’re going to surprise them,” Harry said. “And if they’ve done anything to Colette, you’re the first one I’m going to shoot. Believe that if you believe anything. Take off your coat, throw it over here and turn around.” He did and Harry checked the two outside pockets of the jacket, found a parking receipt, and a pair of handcuffs. There was also a piece of notepaper that had an address on Crooks Road in Troy and a phone number. “This where they have Colette?”
In the other pocket he found car keys and a small semi-automatic. He ejected the magazine and put it in his pocket. The German had his back to Harry, looking over his shoulder.
“Take off your clothes. I want to see what else you’ve got.”
The German stripped down to his briefs and tossed everything on the floor at Harry’s feet. Harry picked up the man’s pants and checked the pockets, found the key to the handcuffs and his wallet. Opened it, name Albin Zeller from Munich on the driver’s license.
“You a Nazi, too, Albin?” Harry said.
Zeller, with his back to him, didn’t say anything. He was less threatening now in his underwear, thin legs, pale skin that had never been in the sun.
“Why are you looking for Hess?” He didn’t respond.
“You break in, say you want to talk, but you don’t say anything.” Hess was a wealthy man and a member of the Christian Social Union, an important political figure in Germany. Harry could understand why there were people who wanted him found. Hess must have told someone his plans. Otherwise how would Zeller have been able to follow his trail to Detroit? Harry threw him the handcuffs. “Put them on.”
Zeller turned, caught them, clamped them on his wrists. “Where’s your car?”
“On the street.”
That wasn’t going to work, walking a handcuffed Nazi in his undies out to the car at gunpoint. “All right, let’s go. We’ll take mine.”
“They are expecting a phone call.”
“Well they’re going to be surprised then, aren’t they?”
“What about my clothes?”
“You’re not going to need them.”
“You drive up to the house they will kill her,” Zeller said.
“Then we won’t drive up to the house.”
Harry was parked in the driveway by the side door. It was 5:30 and almost dark. He led Zeller out, popped the trunk, took his eye off the German for a second and Zeller took off, hurdled the neighbor’s fence like a track star and disappeared. Harry started after him and stopped. Went back to the car, closed the trunk and drove to Troy to find Colette.
Dominic stared at the baby as Zeppe drove, letting his finger trace along her forehead. “She’s quiet for one so young,” he said, no trace of the vehemence that tainted his voice earlier.
“Yeah, I guess she likes you.”
“And look at those eyes. Such big brown eyes.”
“Beautiful,” Zeppe said, but he never took his eyes from the road.
When the little girl smiled, Dominic smiled with her, but soon afterward turned somber. He thought of the fate Maria suffered because of him. If anyone should have had children it was her, but she refused to marry Dominic because of what he was, and she refused to marry anyone else. He saw the pain when she sat at the playground and watched the children play. Pain she didn’t deserve. Perhaps this was God’s answer to his prayers.
There would be birth certificate issues and people to pay off…but that could be arranged. The bigger problem was getting Maria to accept the baby and then making sure no one ever told the truth. That was the difficult one. Truth had a way of creeping through cracks and oozing to the top, no matter how deep it was buried. He knew he could trust Zeppe, and he could trust Maria…but something in his gut ate at him. This would take careful planning.
Zeppe pulled up to a warehouse. Dominic got rid of the gun and changed clothes. Half an hour later he turned down the street to Maria’s house.
“Turn the corner and park on the street after hers,” Dominic said. “We’ll walk.”
“Dom, it’s cold, and that baby—”
“The baby will be fine in the blanket. I’d rather not be seen on Maria’s street.”
After Zeppe parked, Dominic checked to make sure no one was watching then signaled Zeppe to bring the baby. They walked around the corner and up to Maria’s house.
A few knocks brought Maria to the door, surprise registering on her face when she saw them. “What are you doing here?” Her voice not much above a whisper.
Maria was the same as always—as plain as her tawny hair and as quiet as a church at night. “Came to see my beautiful friend,” Dominic said, and removed his cap.
She brushed her fingers through the sides of her hair. “Beautiful? I’m already graying.”
Dominic hugged her and kissed her forehead. “I love that gray,” he said, then nodded to Zeppe, who handed the baby to Maria.
She went wide-eyed. “Whose baby is this?” She held the girl against her and peeled the blanket back one layer at a time. “She’s so small. Where’s the mother?”
Dominic brushed the baby’s red cheeks with his finger, and nudged her head with his nose, sniffing in her scent. For the second time tonight a smile lit his face. “Babies are so innocent. You can even smell it on them.”
Maria walked through the house, humming a tune while she rocked the baby in her arms. “You didn’t answer me, Dominic. Who does she belong to? Some woman friend of yours?”
“I’m surprised at you for saying such a thing, Maria.” Westminster chimes were signaling the half-hour. Dominic waited for them to stop; they were Maria’s favorite. “We found her on the street corner. She was in a stroller, freezing.”
Maria looked at him, perhaps trying to judge the truth. “I’m sorry, Dominic, it’s just…I thought…” She shook her head and continued walking. “Who would do that to a baby?” She kissed the girl’s head several times. “Poor baby,” she said, then turned to Dominic. “What can we do with her? Did you call those…services people?”
“You know I would never do that; besides, you always wanted a child. Now God has sent you one.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I can’t keep her.” Maria made the statement, blessed herself when she said it, but a plea rode on her words.
“You must keep her. God has given you a gift. Someone who didn’t care abandoned her, now someone who does care will raise her.”
Maria stared at Dominic for a long time, then she hugged the baby as tears formed in her eyes. “There is no way I can keep her, but I will watch her for a while.” She walked with her for a few moments, then said, “In the meantime, I’ll call her Concetta.”
Dominic nodded, a smile on his face. Maria would never let go of that baby. “Concetta Gianelli. A good name.”
“I told you, Dominic, I can’t keep her. What would the neighbors say? They will—”
Zeppe shook his head. “Tell them a relative died. Trust me, they won’t say anything.” He leaned over and kissed Maria on the cheek, then kissed the baby. “I promise you.”
Dominic looked at Maria, then Zeppe. “If Maria keeps Concetta, no one is to know where she came from. Understand? No one.”
“Don’t worry,” Zeppe said. “Just the three of us.”
Maria nodded, clutching the girl as if someone might take her. “Yes, just the three of us.”
Zeppe turned and headed for the door. “I’ll wait outside.”
“Good night, Giuseppe.”
“Yeah, good night, Maria.”
As the door closed behind Zeppe, and Maria walked to the kitchen, Dominic made the sign of the cross, asking God for forgiveness. It was one thing to kill a man—but to take his baby and claim it as a gift from God might be pushing things too far. That was the kind of thing that could haunt a person in both lives. And what will Maria do if she finds out the truth? Even worse, what will this little girl do if she finds out?