Wolves


WOLVES AT OUR DOOR by Soren Paul Petrek
* Historical * Action * Adventure *


Title: WOLVES AT OUR DOOR
Author: Soren Paul Petrek
Publisher: Editions Encre Rouge/Hachette Livre
Pages: 319
Genre: Historical/Action/Adventure



The Allies and the Nazis are in a deadly race to develop the ultimate weapon while supersonic V-2 rockets rain down on London. Madeleine Toche and Berthold Hartmann, the German super assassin who taught her to kill, search for the secret factory where Werner von Braun and his Gestapos masters use slave labor to build the weapons as the bodies of the innocent pile up. The Allied ground forces push towards Berlin while the German SS fight savagely for each inch of ground.

Finding the factory hidden beneath Mount Kohnstein, Hartmann contacts his old enemy, Winston Churchill and summons Madeleine to his side. While she moves to bring the mountain down on her enemies, Hartmann leads a daring escape from the dreaded Dora concentration camp to continue his revenge against the monsters who ruined his beloved Germany.

Together with the Russian Nachtlexen, the Night Witches, fearsome female pilots the race tightens as the United States and the Germans successfully carry out an atomic bomb test.

Germany installs an atom bomb in a V-2 pointed towards London, while the US delivers one to a forward base in the Pacific. The fate of the Second World War and the future of mankind hangs in the balance.

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Helga Miller shut the door to her small flat in Saint-Omer. With seagulls reeling and crying in the sunny morning sky above, she felt as though she were on vacation. She loved the quaint architecture of the homes, the small shops, and the produce market. Things were scarce, but it was late summer, and the local produce was in. Fish was always available, and she had developed a fondness for it. She could smell the sea and loved the warm sand and relaxed atmosphere at the beach. It was as if there wasn’t even a war.

I’m not on holiday, she told herself, but it’s my first time out of Germany, and I’m not going to waste it. She’d wanted to help with the war effort, and now she had her chance. Even after the invasion, everyone back home still thought Germany would win—Hitler told them so, and the propaganda films left no doubt. Why wouldn’t she believe it as well?

Smaller than some of the other women she worked with, Helga prided herself on being athletic and trim. She went for long walks and did calisthenics daily. Her long hair, which she kept tucked under her hat while on duty, was dark, as was the hair of many people from Bohemia in southern Germany. She wasn’t much interested in the men she worked with. Older and serious, they paid little attention to her except to bark orders. They bored her. She liked the young soldiers stationed in the town and at her worksite. They were exciting and fun-loving, and girls like her from home were scarce.

Helga had been recruited right out of university, and while she knew that as a non-soldier, she would never be much of a threat to anyone, she was eager to work on such an important program. The big projects had political or military applications. The project she was working on combined mining and construction. It was unique.

She was on her way to La Couple, where she worked as a mining engineer. Helga knew the fighting was close, but the enemy army was still many miles away. She didn’t think about it much, but when she did, she had to admit it was a bit thrilling. Neither did she think often of the intended use of the facility once complete. At work she concentrated, paying no attention to the fact that rockets launched from there would fall on major cities—and their civilian populations. Allied bombs were falling on German cities, targeting military installations and civilians alike. She hoped the completion of the facility would stop those raids and help Germany win the war.

 Helga walked toward the train station where she would catch the short ride to her worksite. She disliked the frumpy white coveralls she wore, but they, like everything else, were mandatory. She felt as though she were dressed in a sack. How would she ever catch a man’s eye while wearing a tent?

She turned a corner and crossed over the car park toward the train station. It was a squat wooden building consisting of dirty windows, a ticket booth, toilets, and a kiosk that sold newspapers, cigarettes, and whatever sweets were available at a given time. Helga made her way over to the short line to buy a ticket for the next train. She noticed a young woman ahead of her with a mane of curly black hair cascading down the middle of her back. She didn’t have to see the woman’s face to know that she was beautiful; the way she held herself left no doubt. Oh, to have curls like hers . . . Helga fingered the correct change in her pocket and had it ready when she got to the window. She smiled at the man behind the glass. He gave her the same indifferent look he gave all the passengers, French and German alike. She was sure he’d been there before the war and would be there when it was over. His job was simple and didn’t require any conversation.

A rush of wind announced the arrival of the train. Helga moved forward onto the platform and waited for it to come to a stop. It was a tired old commuter train that had covered the same miles of track for years. With petrol scarce, people got around on foot, bicycle, or, for longer distances, train.

After waiting her turn to board, she found an empty seat in the middle of the car. Among the passengers who brushed past her was the young woman with the beautiful hair. Helga snuck a peek at her dark and angular, almost Gypsy-like, face; the lovely girl was almost certainly from the south. She watched men steal glances as she passed. She felt a twinge of jealousy. No man had ever looked at her that way; it wasn’t fair.

The train pulled out of the station and picked up speed. The windows were down, and the warm breeze carried a hint of salt from the ocean. The smell of seaweed and surf wafted through the car, carrying out cigarette smoke and lingering smells. Helga could stay in a place like this forever. With the weekend coming, she was planning to go down to the beach with another girl from work. Two days in the sun, a chance to chat with some young men, drink some local wine, have some fun. There were always young German soldiers about, on leave.

As the coastal scenery came into view, it seemed to shake from the train’s rattling. Seagulls cried down near the beach. The tide was out, revealing large expanses of sand and lowland areas. People were out digging clams and scraping mussels off the exposed rocks. The chalky cliffs were much like their counterparts on the other side of the channel in England.

No sooner did the train stop than the other passengers stood and eked out to crowd the passageway. Helga waited until the aisle was clear before she stood. As she made her way to the door, the car was empty, so it hardly stood out that the young woman was, like everyone else, gone.

Helga made her way from the train station toward the construction site. The path was a mixture of sand, gravel, and chalky white chips weathered away from the hillsides over millions of years. The path came to a wooded area. She could see other workers walking far ahead, but there was no one near her. She wasn’t in a hurry to get to work, especially on such a nice day. She’d be on time; there was no need to rush.

It was a blind corner in the path. No time to react. A dark figure slid behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder, another on her chin. With a furious jerk, the assailant broke Helga’s neck and dragged her body off the trail. The killer removed her work clothes and pulled them over her own. In less than a minute, the body was covered with grass and sticks. Unless someone from the trail was looking for Helga, she would never be seen.

The killer moved away, pulling Helga’s cap over her head, tucking in strands of curly black hair. Back on the trail, she headed toward the rear entrance of La Couple. She clipped the dead girl’s credentials to her coat pocket. She’d already observed that the guards never even checked the women coming and going from the facility. How incredibly stupid of them.

The guards at the entrance waved her through as she held out her identification. Hardly a glance in her direction. She stepped into the entrance, where, shielded from the summer sun, she was immediately cooled. Moisture clung to the walls and made the floor beneath her slippery. A sheet of water covered the tunnel, pooling in spots. This entrance mustn’t be completed yet, she thought. Touching the spongy chalk walls, she passed on into an area where concrete walls had been added and spanned in a curved ceiling overhead. The passageway was extremely wide. Wide enough to accommodate a small train. Not tall enough for a full-sized rail car, but certainly wide and high enough to transport something big.

The woman’s name was Madeleine Toche, and her inside-out knowledge of her business was nearly as legendary as her hatred of Germans. For this important operation, she needed to know what was inside so she and others could destroy it. Today was a reconnaissance mission. If an attack was ordered, it would come later.

Toche was an assassin, trained and deployed by the British Special Operations Executive, the SOE, and Prime Minister Churchill’s army of the shadows. She’d spent most of the past two years in France killing—Gestapo, SS officers, and troops. Stealth and patience were her strongest weapons. She’d often wait days in concealment, like a spider in its dark recess, until she sprung from a forgotten crack to kill, afterward slipping away. Her reputation spread far beyond Europe.

Raped at the hands of the SS after her beloved brother was killed when Germany invaded France, she’d vowed revenge. With the help of her father, she killed her assailant and escaped to England through Spain. Her young life had been a whirlwind of training with the British SOE and preparing for war.

A German Jew, a hero of the German army in the First War, trained her. His hatred of the Nazis for killing his wife and daughters propelled him down a road of destruction that made Madeleine’s pale by comparison. Those Jews that knew of him considered him a Gollum. A creature sent by God to kill the enemies of the Jewish people. A monster devoid of mercy. An instrument of unspeakable cruelty. Hatred lain bare.

Passageways led off the main corridor she was in, and down which she continued toward the cavernous space under the dome. Oily dust hung in the air. While the chalk was caked and fragile, the hum of diesel machinery and poor ventilation created a haze inside the tunnels. The place was light on security; if there were any other guards, she couldn’t see them. Electric bulbs strung overhead created a misty effect. She was happy with the additional cover.

The tunnel was a hive of activity. With tight schedules to keep, the workers inside remained intent on their tasks, often walking right past her without a glance or a greeting. No one would notice her in here. She stepped aside to allow a group of workers to go by.

The sound of nonstop drilling shook the structure. She walked past workshops and storage areas, all linked by railroad tracks that headed down toward a massive central hall looming ahead. Inside, it was brightly lit and crisscrossed with construction scaffolding.

She walked out into the space underneath the dome, towering seven stories above her. Full-sized train tracks led out of the cavern into a corridor much larger than the one she had just walked through. Machinery was being attached to walls in the middle of the structure beneath the dome. She could identify winches and tracks to move something horizontally above the tracks. But what in the world was this?

She left the dome area to inspect the remainder of the construction. As she passed one of the rooms, she noticed that the ceiling was much higher than the others. At least twice as tall. She paused and walked inside. Workers measured the floor, marking it at intervals to accommodate another set of tracks. A man looked up with a quizzical expression and then motioned her over. She would answer none of his questions; she promised herself as she pointed to her watch and shook her head. When he started in her direction, she turned and walked out of the room. He followed.

Madeleine picked up her pace and started back down the tunnel in the direction from which she had come. She ducked into a dark hallway leading off the main corridor. She flattened her back against the wall, hiding on the fringe of the light spilling in from the hallway. The man hurried in her direction. Just a little closer, she thought. He couldn’t see her in the dark. Once he was near, she darted out, ramming a fountain pen into his ear, pushing it in with the palm of her hand. His knees buckled, and he fell forward onto his face, crashing to the floor. Setting her clipboard down, she dragged his body further into the dark. And though his legs jiggled, she knew he’d been dead before he hit the ground. Finding a bin partially filled with rock, Madeleine pulled his body behind it. Turning, she picked up her clipboard and walked out into the main passageway. She had seen enough. Time to leave.

She walked toward the entrance she had come through, knowing she needed to be gone before they discovered the body. After all the missions she’d completed, and blood that had stained her hands, to get caught on a reconnaissance mission would be stupid. She knew she would find Jack at the top of the hill overlooking the compound. Just make it to the trees, and you’re home free. This is routine. Shoot your way out, but only if you have to.

Madeleine hurried to join a small group of workers leaving the facility. Neither guard at the entrance gave her any notice until she walked past them. Madeleine made sure to smile at the young guards. They couldn’t help but smile back. Just don’t speak to me in German, she thought, touching the pistol in her pocket. It had become almost involuntary. A reassurance that it was there if she needed it. She could feel their eyes on her body. The bulky uniform couldn’t hide everything. And the more they concentrated on her looks, the less they would think about security; it had worked in the past. The Germans just didn’t see women as threats. They’d think differently if they knew she had a five-million-Francs bounty on her head.

Walking out of the guards’ line of sight, Madeleine stepped off the path. She pulled off the white smock and hat and shook out her hair. She tossed the clothes further into the woods and then covered them with small branches. Soon she relaxed, the adrenaline in her body subsiding. She had much to tell her superiors about this successful mission. She couldn’t wait to reach the top of the hill and see Jack, her husband.



























 







Soren Petrek is a practicing criminal trial attorney, admitted to the Minnesota Bar in 1991.  Married with two adult children, Soren continues to live and work in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Educated in the U.S., England and France Soren sat his O-level examinations at the Heathland School in Hounslow, London in 1981.  His undergraduate degree in Forestry is from the University of Minnesota, 1986.  His law degree is from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota 1991.

Soren’s novel, Cold Lonely Courage won Fade In Magazine’s 2009 Award for Fiction.  Fade In was voted the nation’s favorite movie magazine by the Washington Post and the L.A. Times in 2011 and 2012.

The French edition of Cold Lonely Courage, Courage was published January 2019, by Encre Rouge Editions, distributed by Hachette Livre in 60 countries.  Soren’s contemporary novel, Tim will be released along with the rest of the books in the Madeleine Toche series of historical thrillers.

His latest book is the historical action adventure novel, Wolves at Our Door.



Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/soren.petrek


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  • This giveaway ends midnight September 27.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on September 28.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
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