MURDER WITHOUT PITY excerpts
The two men jumped Stanislas outside the burned-out apartment building, and he realized he had made a mistake. He raised his cane to strike, but it was too late. They muscled him, shouting, up a long flight of stairs and into a drafty room, and then they got serious.
The one with the German accent, grunting exertion, bear hugged him several steps and threw him hard onto a stool, making Stanislas cry out from pain that spiked up his bad leg.
And afterwards, when Stanislas jerked to struggle loose, the man with the accent clamped a hand on his shoulder and warned in French, "Monsieur Cassel, please don't." This menacing courtesy frightened Stanislas even more. This stranger, who had helped ambush him, knew his name.
"Monsieur Cassel," the man continued, "you're a powerful examining magistrate here in Paris. You have solved many crimes. You know the high and mighty and have even indicted some. Fearless, according to the media. But you do not sit in your Ministry of Justice Annex office. And you cannot command the police to rescue you. You are in an abandoned tenement, blindfolded, alone and powerless, with just me and Luc."
A cell phone beeped. Another man, Luc, no doubt, Stanislas guessed, and in French and on the second ring, as though expecting the caller. In the near silence, as Luc listened, someone somewhere outside in the fog pounded an angry beat on congas. Through the throb, Stanislas could hear behind him Luc mumble words that sounded like code. Something about bringing the car around. Something about keeping the headlights low, and he thought, they're going to kill me....
SOME TROUBLING QUESTIONS
Louis Boucher stood before Stanislas, straight-backed, in a raincoat with a muffler around his neck....He would have looked appealing, except for a scar...which hinted at violence.
VIEW FROM A WINDOW
As Stanislas locked up the studio, he felt a hunch stronger than before his visit. Leon Pincus appeared more than the beggar-pensioner that Boucher claimed, and Louis Boucher, less the innocent than he himself professed.
Louis Boucher felt trapped. The thought of dying alone in prison terrified him.
LAST METRO HOME
Heaps of fog roiled in waves through the night, obliterating Rue de Rivoli under its onslaught.
Only traffic lights landmarked the street, and they blinked spectral red like storm lanterns…
THREE HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE
So that after Danny had thrown him out onto the sidewalk and clanged the gate shut, what stayed with Stanislas wasn't the youth's meanness, but the wild fear in his eyes over what he promised to reveal.