Authors: Gerald Jay
Tags: #Suspense, #Mystery
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 by Gerald Jay
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Nan A. Talese / Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada, Toronto.
DOUBLEDAY is a registered trademark of Random House, Inc. Nan A. Talese and the colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Jacket design by John Fontana
Jacket illustration © Silas Manhood; jacket photograph of paper © homestudio/Veer
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The Paris directive / Gerald Jay. — 1st ed.
1. Police—France—Fiction. 2. Assassins—Fiction. 3. Murder—Investigation—Fiction. 4. Americans—France—Fiction. 5. Dordogne (France)—Fiction. I. Title.
“And even those doomed to be the next night’s victims are full of plans …”
Circle of Deceit
einer checked his watch as he waited by the elevator. Within the next sixty seconds, the elegant Frau Dr. Sachs, her chic shoulder-length hair dyed the color of a concert grand, would leave her penthouse apartment for her office at number 18 on the fashionable Friedrichstrasse. Dr. Sachs was a creature of habit. That always made things easier.
The hallway had a thick, ice-blue carpet and smelled of fresh paint. Reiner liked these new Potsdamer Platz buildings, where a penthouse apartment cost a small fortune. With the doctor’s specialty of blackmail, he supposed, she could afford it. He himself didn’t mind helping people with problems when the price was right. The distinguished Hanoverian judge Gerhard Tempelmann had confided that he was in desperate need of help. Tempelmann’s whole world was about to come crashing down.
The judge explained that three weeks ago he had driven to Berlin to accept an honorary degree from Humboldt, the university of Marx, Engels, and the brilliant Einstein. That night on the way back to his hotel after celebrating with old friends, he got lost driving the dark, narrow streets sandwiched between the university and the river. Confused and slightly tipsy, he failed to see the bicycle rider. In his rearview mirror, her mangled, lifeless body lay smeared across the road. He was quite certain that the young woman was dead. There was nothing he could do to help her. But Dr. Sachs, out walking her poodle, Schatzy, near the banks of the Spree, had witnessed the accident and seen his car racing away across the bridge.
When the first letter arrived in his mailbox postmarked Berlin,
it asked for ten thousand marks. The judge knew there would be others. One careless second and everything good and meaningful in his life seemed about to be destroyed. “If there’s anything you could do,” he begged Reiner. There would be no questions, he promised, and money was no object. The next day the judge had fifty thousand marks ready for Reiner. It was a pleasure to work for such a man.
As the penthouse door opened, Reiner hit the elevator button and the light popped on. He ran his hand over his long blond hair, straightened his silk Hermès tie. In a case like this it was always important to make a good first impression.
Dr. Sachs was dressed all in black leather. Even the expensive Italian briefcase she carried was black leather, probably bought in the west on the Ku-Damm at the sleek Mandarina Duck, the shop featuring specially treated calf leather, waterproof and scratch resistant. Utterly impervious to dangers of all sorts.
he said brightly.
snapped Sachs. She had a busy day ahead of her. She banged the elevator button. “What’s keeping it?” She looked up at him and decided that she liked the young man’s tie, the directness of his gaze. He had the most compelling blue eyes she’d ever seen. He was worth a smile.
“Here we are,” said Reiner, as the door began to slide open. He motioned for her to go first, but Dr. Sachs hardly needed any prompting. She stepped forward and only at the last second saw the empty elevator shaft yawning at her feet. Frantic, she clawed the air and somehow managed to pull herself back.
she cried, struggling to catch her breath. “I almost fell in.”
A palm to the small of her back sent Sachs screaming down the shaft, her shrieks trailing after her like a torn parachute.
ÉLYSÉE PALACE, PARIS
he great hall with its brilliant rows of crystal chandeliers, its gilded columns, its magnificent Gobelins tapestries and crimson drapes was empty. The reception for the African ambassadors wasn’t scheduled to begin for another hour. At the far end of the room, the French doors were flung open onto a garden laid out in tiered, semicircular rows, gradually ascending to a small pool with a fountain. Though still early for roses, the ordered arrangement of the plants usually did wonders for the president. Not this time.
Chirac angrily slammed down the receiver, nearly knocking the telephone off his desk. “The Chinese … they’ve just canceled their participation in the EU trade talks.”
The foreign minister, who had been conferring with the president when his telephone rang, asked, “Will you be making a statement?”
“I suppose I’ll have to.”
Chirac had feared something like this might happen as soon as he’d heard about the bombing of China’s embassy in Belgrade. The other day at his impromptu airport news conference in Helsinki, he’d called the bombing “unfortunate. A tragic blunder.” Hadn’t he, along with Clinton, Schröder, and the other NATO leaders, apologized? Yes, of course, of course he could understand the violent Chinese reaction, but what the hell did they want? Accidents happen.
Standing by the window of his sumptuous office in the palace, he gazed down at the sunlight dancing in the fountain and the gardener in blue overalls. He was reminded fleetingly of a painting by Monet at the Musée d’Orsay that he liked—the deep emerald shadows, the
shimmering evanescent light. A luminous, peaceful moment in the Parc Monceau snatched from the general mess and imprecision of things. He thought of how much he’d counted on the enormous Chinese market to bolster the lagging French economy. No wonder he was losing his hair. What lousy timing!
The president knew that the Chinese would eventually come around—Jiang Zemin needed to be accepted by the World Trade Organization for his own survival—but could he himself wait that long without having his own plans unravel? He tried to reevaluate his position, approach the situation as coolly as if it were no more than a theoretical problem.
“If only there were some way to change their minds …” Chirac leaned toward the window and tapped impatiently on the glass. Some way, he mused, to make Jiang realize that not all of us were as dumb as the Americans—their CIA incapable of simply opening a 1999 Belgrade telephone book and seeing that they had targeted the Chinese embassy and not a damn Yugoslav arms factory. No doubt all intelligence services had their share of blockheads, even his own. Mitterrand hadn’t needed the
fiasco to realize he’d placed his trust in bunglers, fools, but it was a risk he had to take. Without those nuclear tests, France would have no M4 submarine missiles or tactical neutron bombs.
Though hardly a Socialist, Chirac too had his doubts about the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure. What his intelligence service needed were fewer thugs and ex-cops, and more
—bright, young, well-educated professionals, experts who could think subtly, creatively. Burdened with mediocrities, how could he hope to deal with crises like these?
“If only …” he began. He ran his hand over his thinning hair the way he often did when faced with a particularly thorny problem. “If only there were some way—unofficially, of course—that we could discreetly let our Chinese friends know just how much we regretted what happened. Show them that we still could be helpful.”
The foreign minister, eager to be of help, pushed his chair closer.
Later, when he returned to the Quai d’Orsay, he reported the incident to his deputy, Simone Nortier. She had an idea for him.
HOTEL ADLON, BERLIN
is appointment was for 11:45 a.m. The arrangements made the usual way—a message with a name and a number to call. The difference this time was the luxurious meeting place and the French name. Reiner fancied himself an independent contractor. He felt no need to advertise, for there were always clients in want of his services: good people being blackmailed, wealthy couples facing excruciating divorces, successful businessmen desperate to dissolve a partnership, eager legatees with no patience.