In June 1940eighteen months before the bombing of Pearl HarborAnglo American MI6 agent Roy Hawkins is mysteriously rushed from Nazi-occupied Paris to New York. Enraged at being ordered away from what he believes is the real fight against Nazism and Fascism, he wants to get back to Paris as soon as possible, even though he knows it means almost certain death.
In New York he is shocked and sickened to encounter a now-alien America increasingly dominated by right-wing extremists, including a new radio celebrity, Walter Ventnor. After a tense encounter with his friend and mentor William Stephenson, he agrees to temporarily pursue a Nazi commercial envoy, Hans Ludwig, and try and stop him from stealing American submarine warfare secrets.
Hawkins follows Ludwig to the elite Saratoga racing meeting, where Ludwig is cultivating top American business leaders. There he meets the scion of an ancient and aristocratic New York family, Daisy van Schenck. After persuading Daisy to throw Ludwig out of the mansion he has rented, Hawkins finds himself increasingly attracted to her, and to the possibility of a different life.
When Hawkins discovers a Nazi plot to rig the presidential election, he is forced to choose between duty and the woman he loves.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Lawrence Dudley has had a variety of careersa blessing for any author. He was the assistant curator of a museum, worked for a radio telescope observatory, and for several years was the lead reviewer and feature writer for the Saratogian newspaper covering the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and its resident companies, the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Dudley has also been a media and advertising consultant and a professional political campaign manager, including races for the New York State Legislature.
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Eighteen Months before the Bombing of Pearl Harbor
That morning ten thousand men arrived at one of France's biggest arsenals, the Renault works in Billancourt, and punched in their time cards. Not one punched out. Abandoned tools littered the floor at odd angles, saluting the tricolor banners hanging down, POUR LA DEFENSE DE LA PATRIE.
A lone man in a black business suit and fedora came racing around a corner inside the huge plant. He kicked a forgotten lunch pail. It bounced down the long aisle, rattling and clanging. The man chased after it, jogging past rows of unfinished Char B1 tanks. Despite it all, despite his haste, he was cool, professional, in the tunnel vision of a job to be done. The horror of it all hadn't quite had time to sink in.
Ninety minutes earlier he'd gotten a long-distance trunk call from MI6 headquarters in London with a frantic question: What was the status of the French defense plants? Now he was here.
Some fool left the radio on. A broadcast echoed through the building. The announcer's measured, overcontrolled tone, punctuated by a couple of short tense breaths, underscored the urgent gravity of the news flash, "... in an extraordinary statement earlier today, Marshal Pétain, the new head of the government, declared that all fighting is to cease ..."
That did it. The man stopped, swung back, darted over and hurled the radio against the wall, hard — not just to smash the radio, but to knock down the wall itself, if he could.
"Go to hell!" The set started to buzz, burn and smoke.
Appalling. All of it, the man thought, rage now in his face. Not even time to turn off the bloody radio. The French army should've blown the damn place over the top of an Alp. The SS would have the arsenal running in weeks. They now had six million hostages to man it, in just the Paris area alone.
The French-sector people back at headquarters aren't going to believe this. Army and air intelligence, too. Need proof Get the Minox out. He pivoted in a circle, carefully but quickly snapping overlapping shots of the abandoned assembly lines with the slim silver camera, winding the film as fast as he could.
Then he stood for a long moment in the center of the plant, tapping the camera on his palm. Can't walk off and leave all this, the man thought. But what? How? His eyes swept the factory floor. A large cart of gleaming new shells sat behind the machines. He ran over. Even better — a long row of the carts stretched the length of the outside wall. Hundreds of shells, enough to vaporize the entire center of the building.
He slipped a shell off the closest cart, cradling it in his arms as he ran over to a nearly finished tank, climbed up on back, flipped down the hatch, then sat the shell inside and stepped in, sliding into the gunner's seat. With a spinning whirl he cranked the turret around, sighting on the carts through the open breech. There, dead on the carts. He tipped the shell against the breech, then realized. No fuse. He sat it back down and climbed out the back, running around to the carts.
Empty holes gaped in all the noses. Where were the fuses? The cabinets? Racks? Vaults? Throwing doors, boxes, canvases aside — where were they? One fuse, if I can find just one, the man thought. Load it in a finished tank. Fire it. Set those carts off. But there were no fuses, anywhere. Must make them someplace else.
From a distance came an unearthly groaning, a metal on metal noise over a low throbbing beat — panzers. Of course, he thought. They're encircling the city first. Damn. Running out of time. What else? Against the far wall, a large pair of black tanks on heavy steel legs.
He ran over, twirling open a pair of spigots. Oil gushed onto the floor. He grabbed a grease-soaked rag from a lathe and held it above his Dunhill lighter. It took a second to catch. He lobbed it into the spreading pool of lubricant. Leapt back. But no roar of flames. Instead the thick oil slowly started burning, more smoke than flame.
The sound of the panzers again, getting really loud now, coming up the quai. Enough, he thought. Time to go.
He vaulted out a window. Sprinted along a narrow embankment by the Seine. Jumped on his bicycle at the north bridge. Pedaled furiously past the big white factory and across the river onto the quai.
A small Wehrmacht armored column stretched over the bridge up to the main entrance. It half-filled the road, blocking the only way out. He glanced down the street to the east, orienting himself. There! The Eiffel tower, rising over a low warehouse, maybe six or eight kilometers out. No choice but to risk running for it. Slow down, he thought. Just carefully pedal on by, unhurried, normal, nonchalant.
A panzer drove up the front steps, crushing and breaking them, popping out flying bits and chunks of cement from under its treads. The tank commander climbed up the turret. He pulled down the tricolor over the door, carefully folding the flag. So respectful ... but oh, no, not really. A souvenir of the big day. Of course.
The soldiers began smiling and waving. They're certainly in a merry mood, aren't they, the man thought. Pretty pleased with themselves. Not on the ball at all. Smile and wave back. Going to slip by. Only another minute. Then an oberstleutnant, turning around. Probably the commander. He waved curtly.
"Du! Kommen sie hier!"
That's it, the man thought, time to stop. Not giving anyone an excuse for shooting today.
The Oberstleutnant was young for a colonel, his smooth, sunburned face still freckled. He held out his hand for the expected papers, businesslike, polite, even saying please. "Iherer identifizierung, bitte."
The man reached into his coat pocket and handed over what was the most precious object on the European continent — a bona fide American passport. Careful, the man thought. Smile slightly. Not too ingratiating, though. Don't let on how uneasy you feel.
The oberstleutnant demanded his name. "Wie heist du?"
"Roy Hawkins. Ich bin ein Staatsbürger von die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika."
The oberstleutnant's all-business face relaxed into a broad, easy smile, his blue eyes now dancing, barely glancing at the passport.
"Amerikaner? Sehr gut! He!" The officer quickly handed it back, thrusting his other hand out for a hearty handshake. "Der Krieg ist beendet! Von jetzt an ..." He smiled and caught himself, switching to terrible English, to prove his friendliness beyond any doubt. "Fram now ahn" — he jovially waved in the direction of the Eiffel Tower — "Germany und Amerika kan be truer friends. Ja?" He eagerly awaited an answer.
"Ja." How oddly you sometimes hear your own voice, Hawkins thought. Like it's echoing through a tunnel overhead. "America und Deutschland kann treuer freunde sein." The watching soldiers began politely clapping their hands, smiling and nodding in affirmation. As if this, or anything else equally unimaginable and madly insane, could ever be good or normal again.
The oberstleutnant smiled and switched back to German. "How are people there feeling?"
"To be honest, I haven't been home in a long time," Hawkins replied truthfully.
"Ah, naturally. Are you returning soon?" the oberstleutnant said.
"No. I'm a businessman. I'll be staying." Damn right I'll be staying, Hawkins thought.
The sky was darkening, getting on toward dusk. The oberstleutnant glanced up, checking the light. He reached into his pocket for a new Leica.
"Please!" He handed Hawkins the camera and turned his back to the Eiffel Tower. Holding his arms straight out, the oberstleutnant gently gestured with his fingers for his men to gather in, to pose with la Tour, cooing, "Schnell."
Make a nice show of it, Hawkins thought, check the frame and all that. He conscientiously motioned to a pair of grenadiers to kneel in front, then snapped a couple of pictures.
Hawkins handed the camera back. One of the gunners turned and spotted a huge swastika flag unfurling from the Eiffel Tower's radio mast. The first scouts had already penetrated into the city center. The light from the setting sun caught it with a flash. Hawkins expected the soldiers to burst into cheers. But there was no singing, no stirring anthems. Instead a hush settled over them. The soldiers all stood transfixed at the sight. Tears welled up in their eyes.
Hawkins got back on the bike and quietly pedaled off. He glanced back. No one watching.
He looked downtown again. At the sight of the flag on the Eiffel Tower his professional demeanor burst like a bubble. He almost choked and nearly spilled, wobbling hard. He glanced back. The column wasn't paying any mind. They didn't even notice a small plume of smoke starting to seep from the arsenal. Out of danger, Hawkins relaxed slightly.
Now released, rage started building. Three years it'd been, three long years since he'd gone into a chemical plant in East Prussia to sell some valves and realized they were making chemical weapons, violating all the treaties and promises going back to the last war. Every warning had been ignored. Now this. He began pedaling faster and faster and harder and harder as he went down the street.
Madame Delage. Waiting with a large tote bag over her shoulder. White hair immaculately coiffed as always. The statuesque aristocrat owned an antiques shop in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, the toniest neighborhood in Paris. It was the kind of shop where the front door was always locked and they gave you the third degree before opening it — as if it were a private club for the very rich. An American passport pressed to the glass usually did the trick. Visiting Madame Delage was like paying a visit to court. Same cool demeanor. Only now the art world royal was calmly standing on the sidewalk outside Hawkins' flat, head and eyes raised in defiance.
"Monsieur Hawkins." She opened the tote slightly, pulling a chamois back. An extraordinary sight flashed into view. Hawkins instantly recognized it — as an auction catalogue would unctuously parse it, it was a "historically important" and possibly unique Louis XVI vermeil tea, coffee and chocolate set, stamped with the royal cipher of the Chateau de Saint-Cloud. Somehow it had survived being melted down in the Revolution. Ordinarily you'd need a special permit to remove an object like that from the country. But the French customs service had no doubt vanished, along with the rest of the government. Hawkins and Madame Delage had done business in the past — antiques trading as he traveled was a small sideline of his. But nothing like this.
"Madame Delage ... I"
"Non! You will take this," spoken as authoritatively as a grammar lesson.
"Madame, I know this. I saw it in your gallery. This isn't just any art object. It's a national treasure. To take this from France ... it's not just against the law, it's wrong. This belonged to le Roi himself —"
"Les Boches," her voice a low hiss, "are going to steal everything."
"They wouldn't dare."
"Non! Are you not aware the top Nazis have already looted all the great Jewish collections abroad? It will not stop with the Jews now that they've gotten used to it. Mark my words, they will take everything of value."
"All the same, I can't afford this."
"It does not matter. Pay what you can. American dollars." She hesitated a moment, leaning in confidentially. "Who knows what may come." She shrugged, swinging the tote at him. "Whatever happens, they'll be safer in your —"
"Madame Delage, no —"
She grit her teeth, again hissing in fierce determination, visibly vibrating with anger, her voice rising to a soft shriek. "I will throw it in the Seine before I let them have it!"
No arguing, Hawkins thought. How much do I need? The next couple of months: Rent. Money to live on. Travel. Hide out. I'll have to do that. He took out his wallet, put aside what he needed and gave her everything that was left.
"That's all I can spare. There's some Swiss francs there, too."
"Suisse aussi? Très bon."
She glanced around to see who was looking before stepping into the alcove. With a quick tug she pulled up the skirt on her Chanel suit and stuffed the wad into the top of her girdle. She winked and gave him an air kiss on both cheeks.
"Au revoir, mon jeune ami, et bonne chance."
"Bonne chance a vous aussi, Madame Delage."
Yes, Hawkins thought, watching her stride down the street. Getting American dollars is probably a very smart idea under the circumstances. He hefted the tote. Surprisingly heavy. He headed inside.
Have to hurry, Hawkins thought. Get to another location temporarily. After what happened in Holland, the Gestapo could be here at any moment. A few weeks will tell.
He looked up. Marie Chevalier was waiting at the top of the stairs.
Marie, his Paris, his personal incarnation of the city he loved. That was how she affected him. Its style: effortlessly chic, her hair tied in an elegant swirl with the ribbon from a Hermés box. Its seductive beauty: her tan legs rising from satin mules to a short silver chemise trimmed with black lace. Its welcome: her smile brushing aside the curl hanging down her face, greeting him with a slightly warm bottle of champagne. And at the top of the stairs, its relief: raining hungry, drunken kisses on her American boyfriend, her pillar, her anchor in the Nazi storm. The Gestapo, forgotten. For a long couple of hours, they transcended the worst day of their lives.
She'd gotten quite tipsy. In fact, the city seemed to be full of people getting hammered as fast as possible. As if the Germans would be going house to house confiscating all the decent wine. An alcoholic haze would hardly make the sight of gray uniforms any better. Marie usually opened up enough without any booze. Her earnest fingers would warmly clasp his hand, caressing his palm as they walked along the Boul'Mich, eagerly telegraphing their desire, each letter hotly written in the palm of the hand. She walked holding her head high, eyes straight, taking in the shop windows.
Hawkins watched her nestled in his armpit. What does she really see? he wondered. Me? Or un Américain? Not to imply that she's using me, or anything like that. Or I her. Not that kind of person, either one of us. In fairness, she knows nothing of my occupation, nor my British half. Just an ordinary Yank salesman.
Got to go, Hawkins thought again. Could wait until she's sound asleep before packing. But no. Detestable, leaving her to find a note on the dresser. "Sorry, ma cherie. I have to leave." She'd done nothing to deserve that.
At his movement she drunkenly sat up in the sheets, watching him pack, a tad bewildered. Simmering resentful glances followed, growing in vitriol. She got up for her robe, psychological armor, tightly tying the knot, like a soldier fastening his kit.
Abruptly, for all she'd drunk, she became remarkably and hostilely voluble, in both languages.
"Ainsi! Tu partes."
"Yes. I have to leave for a few days."
"Tu nous abandonnes!"
Abandoning — us?
"No — I have to go. It's temporary." Could I call and give her my address? No. There would be too many questions, and that knowledge might actually endanger her. "It's business. Je dois partir! I'll be back soon."
"I ... I'm not sure. Maybe a couple of weeks. Pas plus de deux semaines."
"Non! I know what you are doing. You are all leaving us, abandoning us, the French. We who relied on you! We who gave up moving the Germans across the Rhine because you said so and then le double-crossed!"
The Treaty of Guarantee again. Of course, he thought. The last of her incarnations of Paris: the intellectual. Had to chat up a poli-sci major at Les Deux Magots, didn't I? First time I ever heard of that sorry episode was from Marie.
After the WWI victory the French had initially insisted on annexing the few German provinces on their side of the Rhine. All things considered that now seemed a damnably good idea. But President Wilson talked them out of it with the promise of an American guarantee of France's borders. When he got home the Republicans in the Senate rejected the treaty. The French were left holding the bag against a Germany that now had twice their population.
Excerpted from "New York Station"
Copyright © 2018 Lawrence Dudley.
Excerpted by permission of Blackstone Publishing.
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