Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway:
A Death in Berlin
By David C Dawson
The Simon Sampson Mysteries, Book 2
Berlin 1933: When the parties stop…the dying begins
The city that’s been a beacon of liberation during the 1920s is about to become a city of deadly oppression. BBC foreign correspondent Simon Sampson risks his life in a bid to save thousands of gay men from the growing Nazi threat.
This is the second in the Simon Sampson mystery series. The first, A Death in Bloomsbury, was hailed as ‘a good old-fashioned John Buchan-esque mystery reworked for the twenty-first century’.
Simon moves to Berlin where he meets British author Christopher Isherwood and his lover Heinz. He’s also reunited with his banter-partner Florence Miles, better known to her friends as Bill. She’s recruited him into the British intelligence services and he’s got the task of hunting down communist spies.
But when Simon is ordered to spy on an old college friend, his loyalties are brought into question. Who are his real enemies? And how much can he trust his masters?
Genre: Romance, historical, mystery, and suspense
Special Release Blitz Excerpt:
Berlin, April 1933
The cardboard box held between a hundred and two hundred files. A lot of paper. It probably weighed between thirty and forty pounds, and was the thirty-first box Simon had carried that evening. He leaned against the side of the truck to catch his breath.
“No slacking,” hissed a commanding voice behind him. “We haven’t got time to be idling around. They could turn up at any moment.”
“Who’s they?” Simon slid his cardboard box into position beside the others in the open back of the truck. “No one’s going to want to come out here at three o’clock in the morning.”
He stepped aside to allow Bill to place her cargo alongside it.
Yes, that personal pronoun ‘her’ is correct. Bill’s real name is Florence Miles, but she prefers to be called Bill. Miss Miles, or Bill, works for the British Special Intelligence Services, which was also known as MI6. Bill is Simon’s commanding officer and should be asleep in her bed in London’s St John’s Wood. How she came to be alongside her subordinate, loading a truck with confidential files at three o’clock in the morning on the outskirts of Berlin’s Tiergarten will become clear later.
“Take your pick. The police, the Sturmabteilung, the Sicherheitspolizei.” Bill reeled off the names rapidly. “Berlin is absolutely swarming with authoritarian men who’d much prefer we weren’t here doing this.”
She took out a cigarette and lit it. “You of all people must know your enemies by now.” She exhaled smoke into the warm evening air and waved the cigarette vaguely around her head. “They’re everywhere darling. It would only take one man with insomnia out walking his dog. If he spots us he’ll do his patriotic duty to the Third Reich and report what he’s seen. Then this place will be full of spotty faced youths in uniforms and boots before you can say Heil Hitler.”
Simon took the glowing cigarette from her mouth, threw it on the ground and stubbed it out with his heel.
“Then you haven’t got time to indulge that disgusting habit, have you?”
He turned and walked back towards the building to retrieve another box of files. There was a full moon that night and its dappled light filtered through the trees in Berlin’s thousand-acre park. It had made it easier for Simon and Bill to find their way around in the gloomy corridors of number one Beethovenstraße as they raided the building’s archives. But it also shone an unforgiving light on their activity, making it plainly visible to anyone who might venture by.
As Simon reached the open doorway of the elegant nineteenth century building he heard a man’s voice in the distance call out in German.
“Halt! Was machen sie da?”
Simon turned and ran back to the truck. Bill was already struggling to secure the truck’s tailgate.
“What kept you?” she asked. “Start the engine and get us out of here. I always knew this was a damn fool idea.”
Simon climbed into the driver’s seat and slammed the door shut. He pushed the metal pin beneath the dashboard to fire up the starter motor and the truck’s engine roared into life. The passenger door swung open and Bill clambered in beside him.
“He hasn’t got a hope of catching us,” she said. “I think he’s from the Sturmabteilung, judging by the tasteful shade of brown he seems to be wearing, but the poor love’s only on a bicycle.”
There was the sound of a gunshot and the glass in Simon’s wing-mirror shattered. He wrenched the gear lever into first and the truck lurched forward. A second gunshot shattered the glass in the back of their cabin and Simon instinctively ducked as if to avoid the bullet.
“You were saying?” he asked. “He doesn’t need to be fast if he’s as good a shot as that.”
By way of confirmation a third gunshot caused the truck to swerve drunkenly from side to side.
“Damn. He’s hit the tyre.” Simon struggled to change into second gear and accelerated east along the perimeter of the Tiergarten. The back end of the truck had dropped on one side and it bounced and swayed across the width of the road.
Bill turned to look through the glassless rear of the cabin at the open boxes in the back of the truck. “Slow down. If you go any faster the files are going to be thrown all over the road. We may as well stop and simply hand them out to anyone who’s interested.”
Simon ignored her and pushed the gear into third as he saw the Brandenburg Gate ahead of them.
“Are you listening to me?” Bill shouted. “Where are you taking us anyway?’
Simon’s knuckles whitened as he fought to keep control of the vehicle. “The British Embassy.”
“Are you mad?”
“Can you think of anywhere else nearby?” he shouted back. “We’re not going to get very far in this contraption. Not now the tyre’s blown.”
“But you’ll cause a major diplomatic incident if we bowl up there. His Majesty’s Government will be very upset.”
“It’s not the first time we’ve upset them. They should be getting used to it by now.”
The truck swerved onto Ebertstraße and past the Brandenburg Gate where two police vehicles were parked. Bill turned her head to watch as they sped past.
“That’s torn it,” she said. “They’re after us. We haven’t got a hope now.”
“If you can’t think of anything optimistic to say, old thing, then keep your bally mouth shut.”
Bill sniffed. “Oh, and we’ve just lost two boxes of files overboard.”
Simon turned the steering wheel and the truck skidded into Behrenstraße. “Nearly there,” he said triumphantly. “It’s just up here on the left.”
The front wheel of the truck clipped the edge of a stone block laid at the side of the street and the truck lurched up into the air. To Simon it felt like time had slowed down. He clung to the steering wheel even as the truck rolled over sideways, lifting the wheels from the ground. It crashed onto its side in a shower of broken glass and Bill was catapulted across the cabin to fall on top of Simon. The truck slid along the road and came to a halt a few yards short of the entrance gates to the British Embassy.
“Are you alright, old thing?” Simon asked.
In the confines of the cabin Bill did her best to lever herself away from Simon. “Never better,” she replied. “But I think we’ve got some explaining to do.”
There was the screech of tyres as two police cars pulled up alongside the upturned truck.
“And it sounds like the German police are going to be leading the questioning.”
TO BE CONTINUED…
A DEATH IN BERLIN – DAVID C DAWSON
Hello! I’m with David C Dawson. He’s an award-winning author, broadcaster and filmmaker. His new book A Death in Berlin is just published. David, let’s begin with a little about yourself and your writing.
Thank you so much for having me! Here are three facts about me.
Number 1: I started writing when I was seven. I wrote a story for a BBC children’s TV competition – and I won!
Number 2: My son produced the video trailer for my first book. It was full of tension and drama and it wouldn’t have looked out of place on Netflix!
Number 3: I used to write news bulletins for BBC radio. That’s when I learned to read what I’d written out loud, to make sure there weren’t any unintended rhymes! And that did happen to me once when I was in a hurry…
So, if you had to use just three words to describe your writing style, what would they be?
Punchy, funny, wistful
Who are your three major literary influences?
Philip Kerr – he wrote a series called Berlin Noir. It features a private detective working in Berlin in the 1930s. Brilliant.
Marc Levy – he’s a brilliant French thriller writer, whose stories always have a hint of fantasy or sci-fi in them. I’ve not written any sci-fi yet but, watch this space!
Paul Burston – Paul is an hilarious British gay writer. His books include Shameless – one of my favourites, The Gay Divorcee which is hilarious, and Lovers and Losers which is very poignant.
But what would you say are your three all-time favourite books?
That’s a really hard one, as it changes the more I read! But as of today, I would say:
Any Human Heart by William Boyd. It’s full of humanity. The most heart-warming book I’ve ever read.
Maurice by E. M. Forster. Such a brave book to write in the early twentieth century England, even if it wasn’t published until long after his death.
Peter Pan – J. M. Barrie. I know. It’s a children’s book! But it’s beautifully written.
So what are your three essential writing tools?
Peace and quiet
At least one cat! Usually two.
Lots of water. I try to avoid coffee as it sends my brain all over the place.
Where are your favourite places to write?
If I’m really lucky I stay with a friend of ours who lives by the sea near Barcelona in Spain. It’s idyllic!
Otherwise I love to sit in the same room as my boyfriend, who’s a composer. He has his headphones on at his electronic keyboard, and I have my headphones on with Chopin playing. It’s lovely to have each other’s company, even though we don’t talk while we’re working.
If we can’t work together because one of us is on a meeting then I go to my writing shed in the garden. It’s very basic and has a few spiders in it! But there’s no phone reception and no internet. No distractions!
What are your top tips for aspiring writers?
Write! It doesn’t matter what to start with, but exercise that writing muscle.
Don’t edit in your head. You’ll never write anything. Get it all on the page even if you think it’s nonsense, and then edit it.
Read what you’ve written out loud. It completely changes how you perceive the rhythm of your writing.
Tell us your writing plans for 2023
Book two in the Simon Sampson series has just been released.
I’m also working on a First World War romance, which I’ve already started. It’s based on real-life characters and a fascinating story of early twentieth century England.
I’m actively looking at writing a musical about polygamy. My boyfriend is a musical director, so I ought to be able to get some tips!
Tell us about your latest release
A Death in Berlin is a gay love story and historical thriller set in Berlin in 1933. The hero is BBC radio’s first foreign correspondent and he’s based in Berlin. He’s also a spy for the British intelligence services. His bosses set him a dilemma when they tell him to spy on Justin, his first lover from university. His boss is a woman called Florence Miles who’s a lesbian who prefers to be called Bill. I think she’s one of the best characters I’ve written so far, but then I’m biased! She’s witty, cynical but at her core she has a good heart.
Check out Book 1 in The Simon Sampson Mysteries
Everyone has secrets… but some are fatal.
1932, London. Late one December night Simon Sampson stumbles across the body of a woman in an alleyway. Her death is linked to a plot by right-wing extremists to assassinate the King on Christmas Day. Simon resolves to do his patriotic duty and unmask the traitors.
But Simon Sampson lives a double life. Not only is he a highly respected BBC radio announcer, but he’s also a man who loves men, and as such must live a secret life. His investigation risks revealing his other life and with that imprisonment under Britain’s draconian homophobic laws of the time. He faces a stark choice: his loyalty to the King or his freedom.
This is the first in a new series from award-winning author David C. Dawson. A richly atmospheric novel set in the shadowy world of 1930s London, where secrets are commonplace, and no one is quite who they seem.
Enter the Giveaway:
To celebrate the release of A Death in Berlin, David is giving away 2 e-sets of The Simon Sampson Mysteries (2 eBooks so far)!
Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cc0f2a57545/?
About the Author:
David C Dawson writes thrillers with gay heroes in love at their core. His latest book A Death in Berlin is the second in the Simon Sampson Mysteries series. It’s a thriller based in 1930s Berlin, when gay men were known as ‘other’.
His debut novel The Necessary Deaths won a bronze medal for Best Mystery & Suspense in the FAPA awards. Rainbow Reviews said it was “an exciting read with complex characters”.
David worked for the BBC as a journalist. He lives near Oxford in the UK, with his ageing Triumph motorbike and two cats.
Connect with David:
Amazon author page. https://geni.us/DCDawsonAmazonAuthor
Facebook personal: https://www.facebook.com/david.c.dawson.5
Facebook books page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/davidcdawsonAUTHOR/