Over the years I have had a number of requests to re-issue my first thriller, Time of The Wolf. It is still one of my favorites novels, and I am currently reprising its protagonist, Radok, in a couple of other loosely related novels that will form a triptych of postwar and early Cold War Europe. Today it goes on sale as a Kindle for just $2.99 with super new cover art from Peter Ratcliffe.
This book had a charmed life. It began as a dream of a cop descending a massive flight of stone steps outside a ministry of some sort. It was obvious in the dream it was a ministry and somewhere in Central Europe, and by the look of the fedoras and double-breasted suits, it was mid-century or earlier. The policeman, as he is bouncing down the stairs, thinks, “Just a death in death’s time. What does it matter?”
Well, it turned out it mattered a whole lot. I spent the next three years chasing that dream. I was fortunate enough to get early efforts of the manuscript to one of the all-time great agents, Al Zuckerman (Ken Follett was among dozens of other writers Al helped groom), who liked what he saw, but gave me an entirely new way to look at the story. He promised to take another look at it once I had revised. A year later, I sent in the revision. Fortunately, Al still remembered me. Three days later I had a two-book contract and money in the bank that would finance the writing of the second book.
One of the few happy-ending publishing stories I can tell.
Penguin brought out the original in mass market paperback and Publishers Weekly called it an “accomplished thriller set in World War II Austria [that] offers driving tension from beginning to end,” and “an exciting intellectual game of cat and mouse from Vienna’s catacombs to the Austrian Alps.”
For those of you who like Follett, Martin Cruz Smith, Philip Kerr, or Alan Furst, enjoy. Here’s a bit of a summary:
Inspektor Gunther Radok is a good cop in a bad world. His beloved Kripo has become an arm of the Gestapo and he is sickened by the new Nazi order. Recently divorced, he feels unmoored in the Vienna of 1942. Then comes a posthumous commission from General von Tratten, a man he once loved and respected. The general bequeaths him a cache of documents that provide damning proof of the Endlösung, Final Solution, recently set in motion in Poland. Radok– aided by the beautiful Frieda Lassen, a half-Jewish, half-American concert pianist working with the Underground–must get this information to Switzerland and to the Allies. Standing in their way is the ruthless Nazi secret agent and assassin, Wolf Hartman–Frieda’s former lover when he infiltrated the Underground four years earlier. Now Wolf is detailed to stop the pair by any means necessary, dogging their every step from the sewers of Vienna to the mountainous Swiss border. This is the exciting first novel in a trilogy of books set in post-World War II Europe.