‘A Polish national, recruited as a spy for British Intelligence and placed at the highest echelons of the Third Reich’
– Eagles Hunt Wolves
It is a great pleasure to welcome Irish writer Robert Craven today talking about his latest novel, Eagles Hunt Wolves, the final book in his historical fiction spy series featuring Eva Molenaar.
Described as books for fans of John le Carre, Mick Herron, Ian Fleming, Phillip K Dick and Alastair Maclean, Robert Craven’s inspiration was his love of spy movies and books when growing up. The series began in Robert’s head over fifteen years ago as a bucket list dream to write a book and now, with five books in the series, he has accomplished that dream and more with the wartime adventures of Eva Molenaar.
Robert tells us a little more about Eagles Hunt Wolves and also has provided an extract for you all, a taster of what you can expect. I would like to thank Robert for joining me here today and I do so hope you enjoy.
[ About the Book ]
1946: The guns have fallen silent over Europe. For now.
Searching for her lover Nicklaus Brandt after a mission three years earlier with the French Resistance in Lyon, Eva finds herself in lawless war-torn Berlin.
Reunited with her old MI6 handler, Henry Chainbridge, she finds Brandt in a secret holding cell for Allied Intelligence in the British Sector of Berlin.
He has information vital to the Allies.
Hitler’s last offering: a vengeance weapon of frightening capabilities is now in the hands of the reclusive American billionaire Edgar Halidane and his cadre of fanatics. Under the aegis of Allied command, Eva is dispatched to investigate and finds herself battling with old enemies who have taken the embers of Hitler’s vision and plan to re-ignite a divided Europe.
And pays a heavy price on her last mission.
It began with Get Lenin and now ends with Eagles Hunt Wolves.
[ Guest Post by Robert Craven ]
EAGLES HUNT WOLVES is the 5th and final instalment of my Eva series and is set a year after the fall of Berlin in 1945. The series began almost 15 years ago when I set out to write as a tick off my bucket list turning 40. Out of that came GET LENIN and the introduction of my character Eva Molenaar.
She is a Polish national, recruited as a spy for British Intelligence and placed at the highest echelons of the Third Reich. A character that a lot of women identify with. She is larger than life, a musician, polymath, and accomplished linguist. She’s not promiscuous but is prepared to use her wiles on foolish men willing to impart intelligence to her. And she’s very successful with it.
Eva’s conflicted, falling in love with a disgraced German officer, who along with his comrades in arms form an auxiliary for the allies fighting against Hitler.
The series grew, from GET LENIN, the second novel ZINNMAN came out, though not selling as well as its predecessor it cemented the format for the following – A Finger of Night and the fourth adventure Hollow Point.
I visualised the series only spanning WW2. I certainly didn’t see Eva making it old age, (going out in a cocktail dress with a machine gun and taking a few bad guys with her) so with the last instalment EAGLES HUNT WOLVES, it is a big A VERY BIG production number.
I grew up loving spy movies and books and with Eva, creating a sort of supermodel-cum-James (Jane?) Bond-type character gave me lots of opportunities to have fun with her. Some reviewers have compared her to Angelina Jolie while in a recent Twitter poll I ran, Jennifer Lawrence won by a country mile.
My own template was the Hollywood star Ava Gardner and the famous Australian SOE agent Nancy Wake (her own adventures would be a movie in itself). Making Eva Polish meant she could blend in with Russians as well as Germans making her as camouflaged as possible.
Purchase Links for Eagles Hunt Wolves ~ Amazon UK / Kobo
[ Extract ]
March 1946 – Zürich
Anyone walking along the riverside of the Limmat might have picked her out; a pretty girl of about twenty, whose maroon-looking lipstick accentuated her wan complexion. Her arm, bent at the elbow and carried at an awkward angle, might have given pause for thought; her fist, balled up into a permanent clench, was concealed between the buttons of her expensively cut overcoat. An attentive eye might even have noticed the small spattering of blood in her wake; tiny droplets that pooled from the crooked elbow before dripping to the ground.
But it was a busy rush-hour Monday; the trams rattled by, buses and bicycles fought with cars as busy citizens dashed to some urgent appointment or pressing matter at their places of employment.
If someone had seen the girl stumble and steady herself with her free arm, they would have put it down to her high heels; black crocodile skin with a buckle and peep toe; a dress shoe rather than a practical one on the unforgiving pavement. Watching her pause, leaning against the river wall, a casual observer might have thought she´d forgotten something, or had stopped to admire the unseasonably azure March sky.
But the pretty girl with the maroon lipstick was badly injured. Satisfied that no one was paying her any special attention, she dropped her purse into the river. She watched it float away, gradually slipping into the depths.
Pushing away from the wall, she resumed her dash to Zürich Hauptbahnhof Railway Station, urgently mingling with the pedestrians as a funereal black Mercedes Benz turned onto the strasse. Glancing back, the girl increased her pace, her deep brown eyes glittering, a strand of blonde hair coming loose beneath her stylish felt hat. A fine glaze of sweat betrayed her fear.
She reached the main doors of the station and lurched toward the train timetables in the main concourse. She had to stem the flow of blood; she was beginning to feel light-headed – but first she had to make the rendezvous.
Taking up position in front of the timetables, she looked up and down the destinations – the railways from Zürich could take you anywhere in Europe. She suddenly longed for her small brass bed. The pretty girl swayed on her heels and buried her fist deep into her overcoat pocket. Her exertions had made the blood flow more freely; she could feel it pooling around her tailor-made leather glove. Her blouse felt glued to her arm.
“I believe the waterfall at Rhine-Falls is the source of the River Rhine itself, Fraulein?” said a man’s voice; it was the correct code.
“Does it go all the way to the ocean?” she replied.
She turned to the man. He was middle-aged with florid razor burn, dressed in garish tweeds. His hat had a jaunty feather in its band.
“No, only to Berlin,” he replied. His moustache was as white as the snow on the alps and waxed up to two fine needle points. Message received and understood.
“I think you will find this map useful then, sir,” she replied.
Reaching into the folds of her coat, she handed him a map. An observant passer-by might have noticed its title; ‘The Canton of Zürich’ in bold type. Inside it was a microfilm.
The man, in return, handed her a rail ticket.
“Thank you, Fraulein. Your train is the 10:15 to Bern. A representative will meet you there.”
She glanced up at the departure board, her train wasn´t advertised yet.
It was 9:05.
“Thank you. I must fix myself up a bit first though; best look presentable.”
Her maroon lips drew a thin, sere smile.
Her handler, Swiss desk section head Douglas Gageby, paused.
“I’m quite alright, sir; no need to worry,” she said.
Tipping his trilby hat, Gageby turned on his highly polished tan Oxfords and strode out of the station, a beige raincoat draped nonchalantly over his arm, concealing the map and its contents.
The girl glanced around and spied the ladies’ toilet.
Paying the attendant an extra franc, she murmured,
“Unwanted attention. Need a moment.”
The attendant grinned, a gold tooth winked mischievously, she whistled as she mopped the tiled floor.
The girl found a vacant cubicle, fastened the latch and peeled off the overcoat and bloody blouse beneath. She hung them on the hook and carefully placed her fashionable felt hat on top. The knife wound was deep, she thought the tendons in her shoulder might be severed. Every movement resulted in a bolt of white-hot pain.
Removing the gloves revealed lesser nicks and cuts; one ran deep beneath her right thumb. Holding the gloves between her teeth, she tasted the coppery blood and felt her tongue drying out. She needed a cold drink of water.
Pulling wads of toilet paper, she made a crude gauze. She fashioned a bandage with strips of her blouse, winding it around her shoulder with her free hand. Her breath was coming in muffled rasps. She could smell her sweat in the antiseptic-smelling toilets. The cubicle swam in her vision; she eased herself onto the toilet seat. She closed her eyes.
She thought of her little wrought-iron balcony. On it she had a little table, a folding chair and a delicate china vase she’d purchased in a market in Montmartre; she loved to place little bunches of flowers in it. On Sunday mornings she liked to doodle fashion designs along the margins of the newspapers, the sounds of the American big bands drifting up from a café in the street below.
Her head rocked back and struck the cistern pipe; snapping her back to the present. The gloves had fallen from her mouth and lay splayed on the toilet floor. Strangely, she felt the urge to cry. The attendant’s whistling had stopped. The girl rose and stuffed the blouse behind the toilet. She gingerly pulled on her overcoat and reached for the gloves. Then, with difficulty, she tilted her hat, shadowing her eyes.
She needed a hospital and a sympathetic doctor – and knew both were just a train ride away in Bern. For a second, she debated flushing the ticket, but thinking about the comforts of a train stopped her.
Opening the door, the girl saw in the mirror a statuesque blonde applying lipstick. Carefully placing a handkerchief between her lips, she dabbed off the excess gloss.
Her eyes were ice-cold blue.
The injured girl opened the door and stepped out into the toilet. Too late she noticed the attendant lying on the floor, just out of view of the dwindling rush-hour crowds. Blood was pooling around the attendant’s head, the mop casually tossed on top of her.
The woman at the mirror spun suddenly, striking the injured girl full force in the face. The girl staggered and collapsed, landing on her injured shoulder. Her head struck the tiles and she could feel her wound opening again, blood bursting through the bandage.
“Where is it?” asked the woman. Her accent was German, not Swiss.
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about, Madame,” replied the girl.
She knew then she was going to die right there on the toilet floor.
“Not sure? Allow me to help.” She delivered a ferocious kick to the girl’s face. Blood flowed from the girl’s ruptured nose. With her free arm, she feebly tried to wave away the next incoming blow.
The blonde crouched down and ran her fingers all over the girl. Thorough and precise, no area was out of bounds. Hunting through the cubicles she found the sodden blouse. Shaking it out and finding nothing she expressed her rage with a single stamp of her foot. It echoed around the walls.
“Who did you give it to?” she hissed.
The bloodied girl was growing faint; consciousness was slipping away.
The blonde motioned to two back-suited men in identical hats who were loitering just outside the toilet door. One came in and hauled the lifeless attendant into the nearest cubicle. The other stood over the girl, produced a syringe from a small leather pouch and tapped its lazy, lethal contents.
“A ticket to Bern,” announced the blonde, holding the ticket up to him like a trophy.
“Then let’s send a message to Bern,” he replied. His voice was cultured; it was laced with the cadences of an aesthete.
“Yes, let’s,” said the woman.
The man who had moved the attendant now stood sentinel at the toilet entrance; a long tapering blade lay sheathed along his arm. His pock-marked complexion twitched with a stressful tic.
“It will dissipate in a few hours, a new recipe from our old friends in Romania,” said the man with the cultured voice. He handed the blonde woman the syringe.
She plunged it into the girl’s jugular, just below her hairline. The girl’s eyelids fluttered for a second and her left leg juddered in a spasm, then with a slow exhale, the pretty girl died. The tall blonde wiped the blood from the girl’s face and rolled small balls of tissue paper, forcing them into the girl’s nostrils. Taking her compact, with a few dabs, she powdered out the bruising.
“She’ll do,” said the cultured man.
“Did you see her talking to anyone?” asked the woman.
“Could have been anyone here,” replied the man.
The rush hour was almost over. The shunting of rolling stock, blasts of steam and whistles announced departures and arrivals. The men hoisted the girl and draped her arms over their shoulders; a silly young debutant wasted on casino champagne. Led by the tall, voluptuous blonde they smiled apologetically at the porters and the conductor, flashing the ticket before placing the girl in her empty compartment on the Bern train.
Seeing them alight laughing and shouting “Au revoir, mon cheri”, a casual observer might have clucked their tongue at the hedonistic antics of these Sunday night revelers.
And anyone glancing into the compartment or looking at her pale face pressed against the glass would have thought the pretty girl with the maroon lipstick was simply taking a nap.
Outside the station the cultured man motioned discreetly to the driver of the black Mercedes waiting obediently where they´d left him. The trio climbed inside, and the gleaming black sedan accelerated smoothly over the bridge, blending seamlessly with the traffic.
[ Bio ]
Robert Craven is the independent author of seven novels. One was a number one download on KOBO. He is a member of the Irish Writer’s Union and an active member of the writing community with regular features
for Irish literary website Writing.ie.
Living in Dublin, Robert gives educational and motivational talks at Rush Library about the processes of independent publishing.
Twitter ~ @cravenrobert