A German Requiem (Book Three of the Berlin Noir Trilogy) by Philip Kerr

By Philip Kerr

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A process metallurgist, at a factory in Wernigerode. ’ ‘Wernigerode,’ I said. ‘That’s in the Harz Mountains, isn’t it? ’ He nodded. ‘I came to Berlin to deliver a series of lectures at the university. This morning I received a telegram at my hotel, the Mitropa —’ I frowned, trying to remember it. ‘It’s one of those bunker-hotels,’ said Novak. For a moment he seemed inclined to tell me about it, and then changed his mind. ’ He handed me the telegram. ’ I unfolded the paper, glanced at the typewritten message, and noted that it actually said she was dangerously ill.

6 It is said that a hungry dog will eat a dirty pudding. But hunger doesn’t just affect your standards of hygiene. It also dulls the wits, blunts the memory — not to mention the sex-drive — and generally produces a feeling of listlessness. So it was no surprise to me that there had been a number of occasions during the course of 1947 when, with senses pinched from want of nourishment, I had nearly met with an accident. It was for this very reason I decided to reflect upon my present, rather irrational inclination, which was to take Becker’s case after all, with the benefit of a full stomach.

I lunged at his head and connected with the empty space that was now mercifully signalled by an abruptly terminated stump of bloody human vertebra. A tree, or perhaps a telegraph pole, had neatly decapitated him. My chest a heaving sack of rabbits, I collapsed back into the carriage, too exhausted to yield to the wave of nausea that was beginning to overtake me. But after only a few seconds more I could no longer resist it and, summoned forward by the sudden contraction of my stomach, I vomited copiously over the dead soldier’s body.

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