Christopher Reich dazzled readers and defied expectations with his New York Times bestseller, Numbered Account, a breathtaking classic of modern suspense. Now Reich returns to the world of international thrillers with a no-holds-barred powerhouse of a novel set against the seething backdrop of post-World War II Germany....July 1945. U.S. attorney Devlin Judge has come to Europe as part of an international tribunal to try Nazi war criminals. But Judge has his own personal agenda: to find Erich Siegfried Seyss, the man responsible for his brother's death.
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December 31, 1999
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Excerpt from The Runner by Christopher Reich
At nine o ' clock, on a warm July evening in the Bavarian Alps, Erich Seyss stepped from the doorway of his assigned barracks and walked briskly across the grass toward the burned-out stable that housed the prisoners ' latrine. He wore a shapeless gray uniform that carried neither rank nor insignia. No cap adorned his head. Only his arrogant gait and undaunted posture remained to identify him as an officer of the German Reich. In the distance, the sun ' s last rays crowned snowcapped peaks with a hazy orange halo. Closer, and less angelic, twin barbed-wire fences and a succession of spindly-legged watchtowers surrounded a five-acre enclosure, home to three thousand defeated soldiers.
POW Camp 8, as it was officially designated by the United States Army of Occupation, sat in a broad meadow on the western outskirts of Garmisch, a once chic resort that in 1936 had played host to the Winter Olympic Games. Until three months earlier, the compound had served as the headquarters of the German Army ' s First Mountain Division. Like Garmisch, it had escaped the war unscathed ' weathered, perhaps, but untouched by a single bomb or bullet. Today, the assembly of stout stone buildings and low-slung wooden cabins housed what Seyss had heard an American officer refer to as ' the scum and brutes of the German Army. '
Seyss smiled inwardly, thinking ' the loyal and proven ' was more like it, then jogged a few steps across the macadam road that bisected the camp. In contrast to his relaxed demeanor, his mood was turbulent, a giddy mix of anxiety and bravado that had his stomach doing somersaults and his heartbeat the four-hundred-meter dash. To his left ran the prisoners ' barracks, a row of stern three-story buildings built to sleep two hundred men, now filled with a thousand. Farther on hunched a weathered cabin that housed the radio shack, and ten meters past that, the camp commander ' s personal quarters. Barely visible at the end of the road was a tall wooden gate, swathed in barbed wire and framed by sturdy watchtowers. The gate provided the camp ' s sole entry and exit. Tonight, it was his destination.
In ten minutes, either he would be free or dead.