Number Nine

Nine seems to me to me a significant number of anything. Cats supposedly have nine lives, it takes nine months to conceive a child, there are nine months in the school year, one never heard of a cat-o-six tails – there had to be nine, Henry Hudson is said to still be playing nine pins up there near Storm King mountain, Lee surrendered to Grant on 9 April, then there was the band Nine Inch Nails, so it seems to me that the number nine has some clout to it. This week, as we approach the ninth month of the year I have finished my ninth novel, The Last Klimt. When I say finished, I mean that now the editor has it and the alterations and smoothing of the rough text begins.

Like most of my titles, The Last Klimt will be read by a narrow group of readers.  It isn’t a bodice-ripper. There are no zombies or vampires, although there are two castles involved, they are not occupied by sword-bearing warlords or fantastical demons. There are demons of a sort however, the kind that wear black uniforms with death’s-head insignia and the double flashes of the SS so au currant with some of our President’s supporters. No, this is an espionage story.

Without giving away the plot (too much) the story involves artworks stolen by the Nazis, a turncoat American, Nazi war criminals in hiding, venal Swiss businessmen eager to make money in the post-war black market, a bunch of Haganah executioners and of course, Harry Braham.

Harry and his friend Karl Lieberman have spent the war marooned in Zurich. In 1945, sidelined by Allen Dulles’ Geneva-based OSS, Harry is recruited by his old squadron mate, Tommy Kingman to help find former SS intelligence officers now in hiding and try to convince them to join in the fight against the rising Red menace in eastern Europe.

Mixed loyalties and revenge play their parts in the action which spans half of Europe, from Berlin to Zurich.