Mammon in Malmö, part one: He watched the Luftwaffe trucks,​ ​laden with looted treasures

The first of four exclusive extracts from Mammon In Malmö, the eighth novel in Edinburgh-born author Torquil MacLeod’s crime series featuring Inspector Anita Sundström, in which the detective finds herself on the trail of paintings looted by the Nazis.

Sunday, 30th May 2021, 7:00 am
Author Torquil MacLeod at the market in Möllevången in 2013 for the release of the second book in the Anita Sundstrom series, Murder in Malmo

MAMMON​. ​Noun.​ ​Riches or wealth regarded as a source of evil and corruption. Prologue1945The guns thundered in the distance through the urgent whirring​ ​of the propellers. The night sky flashed with the explosive​ ​light of heavy artillery. The Ivans were getting ever closer.​ ​Oberleutnant Bernhard Faber already knew that they had​ ​breached the supposedly impregnable Seelow Heights and it​ ​was only a matter of days before they surrounded Berlin.

He​ ​watched impatiently as two of his men heaved the long, thin​ ​crate into the bowels of the plane.‘Get a move on!’In the dark, he couldn’t register if their expressions wore​ ​resentment or resignation. If resentment, he could understand​ ​it. He, too, resented spending time on this pointless job. These​ ​things didn’t matter anymore. He should be back in Berlin,​ ​helping to stem the Soviet tide.

Of course, if the Luftwaffe​ ​had had any planes left, he’d have been doing what he knew​ ​best. But now, he was an airman unable to get into the air and​ ​reduced to a dogsbody for the Reichsmarschall, whose priceless​ ​plundered possessions were more important to him than his​ ​bloody fliers.His two men went to pick up the last load. They would​ ​have to be quick; the plane needed to be airborne soon or it​ ​would be too late. It may even be too late now; the skies above​ ​what was left of the Reich were thick with enemy aircraft.

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Mammon In Malmo

Faber​ ​was unconcerned about the fate of the plane; it could get shot​ ​down for all he cared. Again, his thoughts turned to Berlin.​ ​His wife and young son were there, taking shelter in one of the​ ​giant flak towers near their bombed-out home. He needed to​ ​be with them to protect them.

Stories of Russian atrocities –​ ​killing, looting, rape – were crackling through the air like static,​ ​carried by the millions of refugees fleeing the Red​ ​Horde. Soon​ ​the vengeful victors would battle their way through the streets​ ​to where Helga and little Gunther were hiding. He’d rather​ ​kill Helga than let her fall into their hands.

As for his parents​ ​in Magdeburg... he hadn’t heard from them in weeks. He only​ ​hoped the Americans would get there before the Russians. And​ ​all this because a little Austrian megalomaniac had enchanted a​ ​nation with promises he couldn’t keep. Only the most fanatical​ ​or the insane believed that his ‘miracle weapons’ would save​ ​them now.On the Führer’s birthday, there had been constant aerial​ ​bombardments. The Allies’ timing was no coincidence. Yet​ ​despite the enemy at the gate, he’d watched Luftwaffe trucks,​ ​laden with looted treasures and escorted by a motorcycle​ ​detachment, trundle south, destined for Berchtesgaden.

Trucks​ ​much needed by stricken troops at the diminishing front. The​ ​last he’d seen of Göring was the Reichsmarschall forcing his​ ​bulk into his enormous limousine and driving off to Berlin to​ ​wish the Führer many happy returns.

Later, Faber had witnessed an almost unbelievable gesture​ ​of defiance and desperation. The blowing up of Göring’s beloved​ ​Carinhall, named after​ ​his much-mourned first wife. He hadn’t​ ​wanted his grandiose country residence to fall into the hands of​ ​the Ivans. But who would give a shit now? Faber and his men​ ​had helped site the eighty aircraft bombs in the cellars for the​ ​purpose and, through the cumulating clouds of dust and debris,they had watched the building collapse like a house of cards.‘Hurry up!’ he shouted above the noise of the aircraft. He​ ​knew where the plane was going, though it might as well be​ ​Timbuktu. He had no idea why this particular batch hadn’t​ ​headed south with the convoy. He was just following orders. As​ ​long as the fat bastard was happy. Göring had let them down as​ ​badly as the Führer. He’d turned the world’s greatest air force,​ ​feared throughout Europe, into an impotent, wingless​ ​rabble.The last crate was in, and the doors slammed shut. The​ ​plane manoeuvred away and a couple of minutes later, it was​ ​rumbling down the pitted, rubble-strewn runway before easing,​ ​not without difficulty, into the air. He watched it until it was​ ​nearly out of sight, then, suddenly, the wings flashed in the light​ ​from the barrages below.‘Right, let’s get the hell out of here!’

Tomorrow: A mystery down the years

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