(Kommissar Saxon #2)

Queen Sacrifice book cover by JJ Toner

KriminalKommissar Saxon peered at the boy’s photograph once more. Johann Grau, the missing youth, had a boyish face with mousey brown hair and traces of acne about the forehead. The first fluffy bloom of a moustache appeared like a shadow on his upper lip. A typical boy of 16 with an impudent half-smile, and yet… There was definitely something about the eyes.

He passed the picture across the desk to his new assistant. “Look closely, Keller. Tell me what you see.”

“What am I looking for, Boss?”

“Whatever occurs to you.”

Oberassistent Werner Keller looked barely older than the missing boy. His experience to date – messing about in boats with the Water Police – hardly equipped him for the rough and tumble of a city police force, but Saxon was glad to have him. Since the Gestapo takeover of the Munich police force, 9 months earlier, many of their best men had been scattered to the four corners of the country. Good men were hard to come by.

Keller puckered his brow in concentration. “He looks constipated.”


“Either that or there’s a turn in his eye.”

Keller handed the picture back. Saxon looked at it again. Keller was right. Grau did have a slight astigmatism in his left eye, but even allowing for that, there was still something… “Well spotted, Keller. Is that all you can see?”

“His smile is a bit creepy, Boss. It’s a wide-eyed look of false innocence. The who-me look. You see it when someone farts in the wheelhouse. I’ve met smugglers on the Rhine with more genuine smiles on their faces.”

Saxon laughed. “You think Johann Grau might be a constipated smuggler?”

“Maybe not, Boss, but I think he has something to hide.”

Saxon flipped through the file. “We should start with his father, to get a list of his friends. Find us a car.”

Before Keller could reach the door, it burst open. Kriminalrat Glasser, the walking skeleton, strode in.

“Leave us, Keller.” Glasser waved a bony hand, as if swatting a fly, and Keller scurried out, closing the door behind him.

Glasser sat in the vacant seat. “What are you working on, Saxon?”

Saxon ground his teeth. Barely 6 months earlier Glasser was a lowly Kriminaloberassistent, calling Saxon “Boss”, but since his recruitment to the Gestapo and his promotion, their roles were reversed.

Saxon handed the photograph across his desk. The superfluous question put him on his guard. They had discussed the case 12 hours earlier, when Glasser had stressed its importance, not just to the boy’s parents, but to the SS and by extension to the Third Reich.

“Ah yes, the missing schoolboy. You haven’t found him yet, I suppose?”

“I’ve only been on the case for a couple of hours. I had to clear my desk.”

“You need to be less defensive, Saxon. No one’s questioning your abilities or your dedication to your work. What else are you working on?”

Saxon’s file cabinet was full to bursting. Painted gunmetal grey, it had the lopsided look of a sinking battleship. He rattled off the litany of his caseload: 5 possible suicides, 17 probable murders, 33 burglaries and countless reports of assault in the streets.

New cases poured in every day. Everyone was working crazy hours, but there was little that the Munich police could do to stem the flow. The list of unsolved crimes kept mounting. The dogs in the streets knew that Ernst Röhm’s Brownshirts were responsible for most of these crimes, but they had effective immunity from the law.

Saxon steeled himself for the next onslaught, some new case to add to the ever-growing pile, no doubt. Since the Gestapo takeover of the Munich police, and the appointment of SA-Obergruppenführer August Schneidhuber as the new Chief of Police, everything had changed. Priorities changed daily, driven by political imperatives that were as unpredictable as they were imponderable.

Glasser leaned forward, baring his teeth in a ghastly rictus. “Tell me, when did you last take time off?”

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