The Golem of Paris

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9780515156089: The Golem of Paris

From two #1 bestselling masters of crime fiction comes an extraordinary thriller about family, murder, and secrets.
 
It’s been more than a year since LAPD detective Jacob Lev learned the remarkable truth about his family, and he’s not coping well. He’s back to drinking, the LAPD Special Projects Department continues to shadow him, and the memory of a woman named Mai haunts him. And while Jacob has tried to build a bridge to his mother, she remains imprisoned inside her own tattered mind. Then he comes across the file for a gruesome unsolved murder that brings the two halves of his life into startling collision. Finding the killer will take him halfway around the world, to Paris. It’s a dangerous search for truth that plunges him into the past. And for Jacob Lev, there is no place more frightening.

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About the Author:

Jonathan Kellerman is one of the world’s most popular authors, with more than three dozen New York Times–bestselling crime novels, most recently Motive and The Murderer’s Daughter. He has won the Goldwyn, Edgar, and Anthony Awards, and has been nominated for the Shamus Award. Jonathan and his wife, bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman, live in California, New Mexico, and New York.
 
Jesse Kellerman won the Princess Grace Award for best young American playwright and is the author of Sunstroke, Trouble, The Genius (for which he won the 2010 Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle), The Executor, and Potboiler (for which he was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel). He lives in California.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One.
 
Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital
Prague, Czechoslovak Socialist Republic
December 17, 1982
 
“The patient will wake up.”
            The Russian’s voice is soft and careful, handling the words in Czech like an unfamiliar weapon.
            She has taught herself deafness. How else to sleep in this deranged place, its nights clotted with moans and prayers to a God that does not exist, cannot exist, for the
State has declared him dead.
The State is correct.
Proof of God’s death is all around her.
            Senseless, trying to hide. She cowers just the same as the Russian kneels to unlock her cage, his greatcoat opening like a pair of dark wings. The cell door stands ajar, admitting a sickly fan of light from the grease-smeared bulb that smolders in the corridor.
“The patient will stand, please.”
She will be punished. Her cellmates want none of it. Fat Irena pretends to snore, blowing white balloons. Olga’s fingers are knotted in the hollow of her belly.
            The fourth bed is empty.
“Little bird,” the Russian says. “Do not make me ask again.”
She swings her feet to the freezing concrete, finds her paper slippers.
They step into the low, broad passageway known as Bulvár šílenci.
Lunatics’ Boulevard.
While the Russian finds the correct key, she assumes the mandatory posture, kneeling with forehead to the linoleum. Along the corridor, a feverish racket is stirring. The other inmates have heard jangling. They want to know. Who is leaving? Why?
“The patient may stand.”
She rises, using the wall for support.
He leads her down the Boulevard, past the staff room, where orderlies doze in armchairs under heavy doses of self-prescribed sedatives. Past physicians’ offices, exam rooms, Hydrotherapy and Electroshock and rooms unmarked except for numbers. Rooms that cannot be labeled truthfully.
The women’s ward ends at two consecutive locked doors, gray paint peeling to reveal steel the same color.
Where is he taking her?
Syringes crunch beneath his boot-heels in the dank stairwell, the temperature dropping with every step. Upon reaching the ground floor, the Russian pauses to remove his greatcoat and drape it over her shoulders. The hem puddles. He places his ushanka on her head, ties the flaps under her chin.
“I would give you my shoes,” he says, tugging off his gloves, “but I must drive.”
He pauses, frowns at her. “Are you all right, little bird? You look unwell.”
Bare fingers brush her cheek. The sudden warmth causes the cold to constrict around her viciously, and she recoils, shivering.
He withdraws his hand. “Forgive me.”
He looks almost remorseful, twisting the thick black ring on his index finger. “Do not be afraid. You are leaving this place.” He offers the gloves. “Please.”
She steps out of the paper slippers and pulls the gloves on over her numb feet. They cover her to the ankles.
He laughs. “Like a chimpanzee.”
She smiles obligingly.
They step out into the frigid courtyard.
The guard manning the hospital gate wears a Socialist Union of Youth pin his lapel. The Russian returns his salute and says that the patient Marie Lasková has been remanded into his custody.
A riffle of paperwork, a signature, a second exchange of salutes.
And like that, she is cured, no longer a menace to society, but a healthy, sane, productive citizen of the republic.
The guard unlocks the gate and shoves it wide.
“Ladies first,” the Russian says.
It’s there, three steps away: freedom. Yet she does not move, gazing back across the courtyard, a brown scalloped mass. The snow of St. Catherine’s Day, well on its way to Christmas mud. A single locust tree stands denuded, its branches pruned back to thwart escapees, the trunk wrapped in barbed wire for good measure.
The Russian watches her patiently. He seems to understand what she is doing before she understands it herself.
She is counting.
The rows of windows, chiseled through concrete.
The ravaged faces beyond. The afflicted bodies. The hunger and the thirst, the cold and the heat and the squalor. The names.
She is counting them all, inscribing them in the ledger of her mind.
She must bear witness.
“Come, little bird. We should not keep him waiting. I left the car running.”
She asks who he is.
The Russian raises his eyebrows, as though the answer should be self-evident.
“Your son.”
 
She turns the corner, moving fast as she can in her gloved feet.
I’m coming, Danek.
But the car draws her up short: a Tatra 603, squat, matte black, tailpipe stuttering exhaust, identical to the car that brought her in for interrogation so many lifetimes ago.
Who knows? It may be the very one.
They came to her door one afternoon, a pair of men with cement eyes.
Inspector Hrubý requests that you accompany us.
So polite! You couldn’t possibly say no.
She didn’t worry. She didn’t even bother to send Daniel next door, confident she’d be home in time to cook dinner. And what a dinner it would be: she had half a package of lasagne noodles. Not the gray Russian kind that boiled for hours without dissolving, but authentic, a little Italian flag on the box. Daniel was delirious with anticipation. When she went to the kitchen for her coat, he was eating them straight out of the box, crunching brittle planks between his teeth and giggling. She smacked his hand and stuck the box up on a high shelf, telling him she’d be back soon and don’t be a pig.
Downstairs, she got into the Tatra and spoke the name of her contact. She knew what to expect. For the sake of appearances, they would take her to the StB headquarters on Bartolomějská Street. Confirmation would require a phone call. They would let her go without apology or explanation, and she would board the tram back to her apartment. As they pulled into traffic, she sat back, preoccupied foremost with how to make a decent filling for the pasta without butter, cheese, oil, or tomatoes.
Now she sees the car, maybe the same car, and her bowels clench. It’s a hoax, another ingenious ploy to grind down her will and pulverize her spirit.
The tinted back window drops in jerks.
Matka.”
The voice is impossible. The face, too. She left a laughing six-year-old and has returned to a sober little judge. Lank brown hair tumbles down his forehead. He is not smiling. He looks as though he has never smiled in his life.
“Why are you waiting,” he says.
Why, indeed. Cheeks streaming, she waddles forth, climbs into the back seat.
And immediately he shrinks from her, pressing into the opposite door, his nose scrunched. She must stink. She takes his face in her hands and smothers it in kisses. Still he won’t look at her, his eyes bent toward the ceiling. She says his name; kisses him, again and again, until he forcibly pulls away, and she falls back, her throat salty and raw.
The Russian gets behind the wheel. He tries to shift into gear and stalls out.
“Garbage,” he mutters. Of all his cold-weather clothing, he has chosen to retain his scarf, and he pinches the fringe annoyedly, struggling to restart the motor. “You people don’t know the first thing about making cars.”
She says Daniel’s name again, softly.
He sits with his body twisted away from her, glaring at the fists in his lap.
“Mercedes-Benz,” the Russian says. “Now that is a car.”
I thought I would be back for dinner, Danek. I thought we would eat lasagne.
It’s too painful to look at the back of her son’s head, so she wipes her wet face, tells her heart to hold its tongue. The Russian manages to get the engine going and the Tatra plods along through Prague 8, toward Holešovice.
She supposes she’ll know their destination soon enough. Just as she did not question the men who came to her door, she does not question this new turn of fate. More often than not, the system takes away. Moments of generosity are not to be analyzed, but grabbed and hoarded like the boxes of Cuban oranges that appear in the shop windows without warning.
You buy as many as you can afford, as many as you can carry, because you cannot know when they might appear again, if ever. You take more oranges than two people can possibly eat; you barter them for items you do need, toilet paper or socks; if you are enterprising, you swap some of the oranges for sugar, which you then use to make a loose marmalade of the remaining oranges. You keep the jars hidden in the bureau like golden coins, ready to be deployed in lieu of cash when noodles come along.
But Miss Lasková Inspector Hrubý said, turning a jar in his hand. I must object: you made it far too sweet, you eliminated the bitter edge, which is makes a good marmalade. Tell me, who would want such sweet marmalade?
He set the jar down, pushed a pencil toward her. Write down their names.
Now the Tatra reaches the Čechův Bridge, iced over, its statuary in disrepair. Though dawn is hours away, she can make out the graceful silhouette of Old Town. She prefers it at night. Sunlight is cruel, revealing lost tiles like rotten teeth; creamy surfaces varnished black by the sooty, cancerous winds that blow in from the north.
Against violet clouds, the buildings’ regal contours assert themselves, and she feels a stab of kinship with these piles of wood and stone: beautiful, proud, soiled, secret.
“There is a group of Western artists visiting Prague,” the Russian says. “I believe you are acquainted with one of them.”
Her chest flutters. Yes, she is acquainted.
“In three hours, they depart for Vienna. They will convene outside the old synagogue before proceeding to the train station. You will approach your friend and explain that you have been discharged. You will express a desire to leave Czechoslovakia. You will display counterfeit travel documents and ask to go with her and her group, in order to provide cover. She will agree, because you have established a prior relationship with her. There is a recording of a conversation which took place between you, in which she is heard promising to work for your release. Am I correct, little bird? Do you remember she told you that?”
She will never forget it. She nods.
“Once in Vienna, you will go to the American embassy. You will describe the horrors of your confinement and offer to defect. To prove your sincerity, you will supply information about a novel design for a nuclear power plant to be constructed outside Tetov. You obtained this information from doktor Jiři Patočka, a physicist with whom you have been romantic. I am sure you will have no difficulty describing your affair with him vividly. Allow me to introduce you.”
She studies the black-and-white snapshot of a man she has never met.
“You will receive further instructions when appropriate.”
She glances at her son.
“Yes, little bird, he comes, too. You understand we could not speak of this before. You have always been a loyal solider. I admire that quality. But we had to give you a plausible motivation to betray us.”
She understands perfectly. She prays that her son can understand, too.
Do you see, Danek, the purpose of our suffering? Or will you hate me forever?
            “So?” the Russian says. “Happy? Faith is restored?”
            “Yes, sir.” Then she worries that she’s given the impression that her faith was ever compromised. She says, “Hopeful.”
            The Russian laughs. “Even better. What is life, without hope?”
On Paří ská Street, he eases to the curb. Daniel throws open the door and dashes across the street toward the synagogue, gaping up at its serrated brow. The entire structure appears to be sinking into the earth, as though hell has opened its throat.
She gets out, hopping over a ridge of black slush.
Wide steps lead from the pavement down to a cramped, cobbled terrace. The Russian kicks aside wet garbage, clearing room to stand. Daniel explores pocks in the synagogue’s exterior plaster, rising on his tiptoes in an attempt to grasp the column of iron rungs set into the wall, the lowest of which is still far too high for him. Her heart blossoms at this evidence that he remains a child, unaware of his own limitations.
            He points to a peaked door at the top of the rungs, ten meters up. “What’s that?”
            “Really?” the Russian says. “Nobody has told you?”
Daniel shakes his head.
The Russian smiles at her mildly. “You can see for yourself why your nation is doomed. You lack pride.” He says to Daniel, “This is an important part of Czech culture, little one. You have heard of the golem, surely.”
The boy fidgets. “...yes.”
“Are you telling the truth, or are you trying to avoid looking stupid?”
“It’s not his fault,” she says. “They don’t teach useless fables in school anymore.”
“Ah, but must everything have a practical application?”
She hesitates. “Of course.”
The Russian laughs. “Well said, soudru ka. Spoken like a true Marxist-Leninist.” He smiles at Daniel. “I will tell you, little one: through that door is the synagogue garret. You know what a synagogue is? A church for the Jews. Their priest, he is called the rabbi. There was once a very famous rabbi of this synagogue. They say he made a giant from clay. A monster, made of mud, three meters high. Taller than I, and you can see for yourself how tall I am. Fantastic, eh?”
Daniel smiles shyly.
“Alas, the creature could not be controlled. It had to be stopped.”
The Russian kneels, grasps Daniel by the shoulders with his huge hands, the fingertips and thumbs nearly touching. “But here’s the interesting part. The golem is not dead. It is asleep, right behind that door. And they say that on certain nights, when the moon is full, it wakes up.”
Daniel tilts his head back, searching the woolly cloud cover.
The Russian grins. “Yes. And if you are patient, and do what you must, you can draw it out. And if you say the right things, at the right moment, you can grab hold of it, and it becomes yours. It must do anything you command.”
He gives Daniel’s shoulders a squeeze and stands. “So? What do you make of that, little one? Do you believe it?”
Daniel’s tongue protrudes in concentration. “Jews are dirty.”
The Russian bellows laughter.
She says, “We don’t speak this way about anyone.”
“Your mother is right, little one. Dirty or not, you are going to be traveling among them, so you had better mind your mouth. Are you still hungry?”
The Russian looks at her. He wants his coat back.
She hands it over, and he fishes out a chocolate. Daniel begins to tear it open before manners kick in and he glances to her for permission. ...

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Descripción G.P. Putnam s Sons, 2016. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. From two #1 bestselling masters of crime fiction comes an extraordinary thriller about family, murder, and secrets. It s been more than a year since LAPD detective Jacob Lev learned the remarkable truth about his family, and he s not coping well. He s back to drinking, the LAPD Special Projects Department continues to shadow him, and the memory of a woman named Mai haunts him. And while Jacob has tried to build a bridge to his mother, she remains imprisoned inside her own tattered mind. Then he comes across the file for a gruesome unsolved murder that brings the two halves of his life into startling collision. Finding the killer will take him halfway around the world, to Paris. It s a dangerous search for truth that plunges him into the past. And for Jacob Lev, there is no place more frightening. Nº de ref. de la librería AAS9780515156089

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