Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: First Edition Design Publishing
Publication Date: May 19, 2016
The Berghof Betrayal, a Winston Churchill 1930s Thriller was inspired by an actual diary entry of German diplomat and publisher Count Harry Kessler in early 1933, shortly after Hitler took power:
“Weiland Herzfelde has absolutely reliable information that the Nazis plan a fake attempt on Hitler’s life which is to be the signal for a general massacre. The sources of his information are the SA in Dortmund and a tapped telephone conversation between Hitler and Röhm.”
This fake assassination attempt will allow the Nazis to declare martial law and liquidate their political opponents. Unknown to Hitler, however, his enemies within the Nazi party—the Black Front—are conspiring with renegade elements of his own SS to turn the fake assassination attempt into a real one.
Churchill learns of the fake plot and persuades Mattie McGary, William Randolph Hearst’s top photojournalist and Churchill’s adventure-seeking Scottish god-daughter, to investigate. McGary meets up in Germany with her fiancé, American lawyer and former MID agent Bourke Cockran, Jr., who is trying to acquire the rights to Rear Area Pig, a book exposing Hitler’s less-than-heroic wartime service. Mattie and Cockran attempt to stay one step ahead of the SS loyal to Hitler who will stop at nothing to keep Cockran from acquiring the book and Mattie from learning the truth about the fake plot.
Michael and Patrick are the co-authors of the award-winning 1930s era “Winston Churchill Thriller” series. The first three books in the series—The DeValera Deception ,The Parsifal Pursuit and The Gemini Agenda—all were named Grand Prize Winners for Fiction by the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and Book of the Year for Thriller/Suspense and Historical Fiction by ForeWord Reviews.
** Excerpt **
THE VIEW WALKING DOWN the access road away from Hitler’s mountain home was even more spectacular than it had been driving up. With the sun high and the air crystal clear, Mattie could see their destination of the village square in Berchtesgaden several miles below while above and around them towered the snow-covered mountain peaks of the Obersalzburg. She took several photos of the scenery in all directions. Hitler had reclaimed his Alsatian Blondi who walked obediently without a leash several yards in front of Hitler. She was once again struck by the lack of security. Anyone could be waiting in ambush in one of the nearby chalets or around the next bend in the road and his two SS guards, who were a good fifty yards behind them to afford their Führer his privacy, would have been useless.
Mattie was curious as to whether he had taken any precautions for his safety. “Herr Hitler, I am surprised at the absence of security here now that you are Chancellor.”
“I’m a fatalist, Fraulein McGary. Anyone with a rifle, telescopic sights and good aim in one of the chalets up here, “ Hitler replied, pointing to the widely scattered houses on the hill sides around them, “could pick me off as I walk. Or they could wait for me in the village square where I frequently walk as we are today. Still, I am not entirely defenseless. Let me show you. Do they have snow in England? Did you make snowballs as a young girl?” he asked with a smile.
“I’m a Scot, not English,” Mattie replied, “and I assure you we have plenty of snow in the Highlands. I had two older brothers and, in self-defense if nothing else, I made plenty of snowballs in my youth.”
“And you threw them as well?”
“A snowball has no other purpose, Herr Hitler. I pack a mean snowball and I have both a good arm and a good aim. Would you like to see?” she asked with a grin.
“Actually, yes I would. Make your best snowball and then throw it in front of us as far and as high as you can.”
Mattie reached down and began to pack a snowball wondering how in bloody hell she was going to work this into her story. When she finished, she held the snowball out for Hitler’s inspection.
“Excellent! Now, throw!”
Mattie reached back and threw the snowball high in the air in front of them. Then, she watched in amazement as Hitler swiftly produced a Luger automatic pistol from the pocket of his great coat, extended his right arm straight out and fired. The snowball exploded in a spray of white.
“Oh! My goodness!” Mattie exclaimed. “That was an incredible shot!”
Hitler’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean ‘incredible’? You think that was luck? That I can’t do it again?” he asked, the Luger now held barrel down at his side.
“Oh, no. Of course not. I was simply admiring your marksmanship,” she replied.
“My SS guards tell me I’m as good as, if not better than, their best marksmen. But go ahead, make another snowball.”
“Really, Herr Hitler, I’m persuaded. It’s not necessary.”
“Make another snowball.”
Mattie did; she threw it; Hitler fired; and the snowball again burst apart in mid-air. He was obviously a crack shot, she thought, and needed no introduction to the new triangle stance which had improved her accuracy after Robbie Rankin had taught it to her.
“I am a fatalist as I told you. Still, I believe in my destiny to lead the German peoples back to greatness,” he said as he slipped the Luger into his pocket and smiled. “But it never hurts to give Destiny a helping hand every now and then.”
After that, they walked along in silence. As the snowball exhibition demonstrated, the Nazi leader was in a good mood and showed no signs of displeasure at their interview or some of her tough questions. And he shouldn’t, she thought, because except for his chilling counter-threat against the Jews, he had fielded her questions fairly well, questions she was sure he did not regularly receive from the German press. Moments later, she heard the sound of a motorcar and watched as Hitler’s Mercedes with its black top and windows up passed them.
They were in sight of the village square when Hitler spoke for the first time since ordering the second snowball. “I noticed as we talked in the tea house, Fraulein, that you have acquired an engagement ring since last we met in Munich. Allow me to offer my congratulations. Who is the fortunate young man?”
“Thank you. His name is Bourke Cockran. I introduced him to you at the Hotel Continental last June.” Mattie said. You know, she thought, that time when you were supposed to meet my godfather Winston and you stood him up.
“Ah, yes. I do remember. You two were with Kurt von Sturm and his most attractive blonde companion.”
“Ingrid Johannson. She now owns a major publishing company in New York.”
“Yes, well, she and Kurt were a handsome couple, but I daresay you and Kurt would be an even more handsome couple. You know he’s the commander of Germany’s newest zeppelin?”
What an odd thing to say, Mattie thought. Had Hitler seen her SS file also? “Yes, I know. Kurt’s a good friend. We had drinks a few days ago in Berlin.”
“A fine young man. I cannot divulge the details, but he was most helpful to the Party and me at a critical time leading up to our breakthrough election in 1930. To me, he represents the Nordic ideal—tall, blond and physically fit. Just like my loyal SS.”
Yeah, right, Mattie thought. And the “tall, blond and physically fit” snake serving as the number two man in your precious “loyal SS” is up to his neck in a plot to kill you.
Hitler chuckled. “You’ve heard, of course, the joke about the perfect Aryan man?”
Mattie thought she had, but she wasn’t sure and she wasn’t going to admit it in any event. When Mattie smiled and shook her head ‘no’, Hitler continued, “The perfect Aryan man is as tall as Goebbels, as physically trim as Goring and as blond as Himmler.”
Hitler laughed at his own joke and Mattie joined in, but not for the same reason. She had heard the joke, but in the version she heard, it had been ‘as blond as Hitler’, not Himmler.
MICHAEL McMENAMIN is the author of the critically acclaimed Becoming Winston Churchill: The Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor published in hardcover in the UK and US in 2007 by Greenwood World Publishing and in trade paperback in the US by Enigma Books in July 2009. The Churchill Book Club called it “Indispensable. The most important new book about Churchill, one you’ll come back to again and again for its extraordinary insights into Churchill’s genius”. Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s official biographer, said it was “Fascinating: a tour de force that brings life and light to one of the great early influences on Winston Churchill.”
Michael is also the co-author of the Watergate era expose Milking the Public: Political Scandals of the Dairy Lobby from LBJ to Jimmy Carter (Nelson Hall, 1980) which Robert Sherrill termed “an excellent job of reporting…thoroughly entertaining”. His work has also appeared in the anthologies Choice: The Best of Reason (2004) and Free Minds and Free Markets, Twenty-Five Years of Reason (1993).
Michael has been a Contributing Editor for 35 years on the leading libertarian magazine Reason, regularly ranked by the Chicago Tribune as one of the country’s best magazines. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of Finest Hour, the quarterly journal of the Churchill Centre and Museum in London where his column “Action This Day” chronicles Churchill’s life. Michael’s articles also have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Sacramento Bee, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Inquiry and The Nation magazines.
Michael is a former Army counterintelligence agent and Army JAG officer. He is a member of the Association for Intelligence Officers and the International Thriller Writers Association. He has traveled extensively in Europe, South America and Asia. He was Managing Partner for twelve years of the Cleveland law firm Walter & Haverfield and was twice the Chair of the Global Coordinating Committee of Lexwork International, an alliance of 39 law firms and 2,700 lawyers in North America, South America, Europe and Asia.
PATRICK McMENAMIN is an award-winning journalist at The Huffington Post, formerly with Fox Business Network and ABC News 20/20. He has worked with John Stossel and Judge Andrew Napolitano producing a wide range of stories, including a report on the unintended consequences of foreign aid, filmed on location in Kenya.
Patrick is currently a Supervising Producer for HuffPost Live, a 12-hour online news network launched in August 2012.
Patrick is a Phi Beta Kappa cum laude graduate of the University of Rochester with departmental honors in both 20th century European history and film studies. Prior to ABC, he worked as a free lance film production assistant for camera crews. He has traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.