Below is an extract from the beginning of my new Historical novel, working title:
Black Danube. A Leo Katz Crime Thriller
Set in Vienna 1899 it follows the story of Leo Katz, a crime photographer, as he tries to solve the mysterious murders of several Jewish dissidents, and help clear the name of a young woman falsely accused of the gruesome killing of her fiancé.
I stood in front of the grand pillared entrance to the Kaiser Franz Josef Railway station in bare feet. I had no luggage or hat. People ambled past taking side-long looks, and shaking their heads as if to say, ‘Ah, another penniless immigrant. This city is going to the dogs.’
The top two buttons on my dark brown waistcoat popped open. I clutched at my chest, hunched my shoulders, fastened them back up, and pulled my gaberdine tight to hide my defective attire. They must not see what’s underneath.
A high-pitched whistle blew, then the sound of metal wheels scraping along the track. They screeched so loud I thought I would never hear again. Gradually, the noise faded. I wiped away the dirty mist left by the steam train from my face, and tried to focus. But my eyes were fuzzy as though I had indulged in an excess of alcohol.
Something was wrong.
Fear seized my belly. A fire rose throughout my innards. I fingered my stiff shirt collar to let in some air to cool my hot, sticky flesh. Not daring to move, in case I loosened more buttons on my tight garments, I observed the washed out faces of men and women that walked along the pavement. They stared ahead not looking at anything or anyone. I wondered how they did not bump into each other. I blinked rapidly. They shimmered and faded becoming nothing more than ghost-like figures floating above the raised wooden pavements.
A swirling wind blew the phantoms away. It caught at my coat flaps, whipping them up and down so fast I almost took to the air. I held onto them and squatted down until the gusts decreased. became dizzy. Not wanting to fall, I slapped my palm against the cold ribbed column and shook my head to dispel the wooziness. The pillar seemed to wriggle. I let go and stared down the steps. At the bottom lay my black shoes, heels broken, sole ripped off half way, gaping open like the mouth of a dying fish.
An urge to retrieve my footwear sent me racing towards them. Rain pelted my face and shoulders. I slipped on the sodden steps and fell bottom first onto the pavement. A heaviness engulfed my body. For a moment I believed an invisible force was holding me down. Clenching my teeth and grimacing hard, I managed to stand. The massive grey station building loomed over me. I raised my head, and wiped away the thudding raindrops. Through the rippling water that slid down my lashes, I saw gigantic eyes appear in every window.
Vienna, Hohe Brücke, 1894