Gdansk – a beautiful medieval Baltic City I have fallen in love with (and not just the ambersmiths shops)
THE AMBER KNIGHT – AN ADAM SALEN NOVEL
The idea for this novel was born in Gdansk city museum – where else? The ground floor held an exhibition of African tools and carvings which I thought odd for a Baltic city museum. I spoke to the curator who pointed to the walls, which were covered with posters of historical artefacts in amber and precious metals. All made the same appeal,”If you see this object please telephone the number below. We cannot be certain if it was stolen by the Nazis when they retreated 1945 or the Russians when they advanced.” Those posters coupled with a legend related to me by an ambersmith in Mariacka Street, of a medieval knight killed at the battle for Eblag and subsequently encased in an amber shroud set me dreaming. Unable to trace the story to any known fact – I created my own legend.
The fast-paced action thriller is a multi-layered story that spans eight centuries, from medieval Germany and Prussia to present day Poland and USA centred on the legend of the Amber Knight – a beloved relic that inspired generations until the Nazis stole it. The Amber Knight was created in 1232 during The Teutonic Crusade when the heroic knight, Helmut von Mau, was killed in battle at Elblag. When the town was fired, the amber in the treasury melted and was poured into Helmut’s stone sarcophagus, covering his body and creating the Amber Knight.
In present day Gdansk. Adam Salen, director of a museum trust, who lives in Mariacka Street (Lucky fellow) and gambles in the Grand Hotel in Sopot (not a wise thing to do) receives photographs of the Amber Knight which disappeared in 1945, and a demand for 15 million dollars. His assistant, Magda, believes that, given a corpse, sufficient amber and armour the knight could be recreated. Adam and Magda want the knight for the museum, but when a mafia hit man is found dead on Adam’s doorstep and more corpses are discovered in woods near Hitler’s Wolf’s lair, it seems like there may be truth behind the myth that death awaits every unbeliever who looks upon Helmut’s face.
Top left the ruins of Gdansk in 1945. I stand in awe of the people who rebuilt it. The art gallery is where I housed “my hero” Adam Salen. The photographs of Hitler’s Wolf’s lair cannot do justice to the immense scale of the complex.
The Defeated Aristocrat – Book One in the Wolf Mau series
This book was born in a trip I made to Kaliningrad a few years ago. Many readers wrote to me after my book One Last Summer which is set in East Prussia was published. One kind lady told me she was the last child to be evacuated from the city of Konigsberg before it fell to the Russians. She had a city directory and telephone book, and I asked her if she could find the addresses of my relatives who disappeared at the end of the war, including my great grandmother, aunt and cousins. She sent me the addresses and armed with a map of old Konigsberg, new Kaliningrad and optimism I set out. Thanks to the efforts of an indefatigable guide I found my great grandparents homes. It inspired me enough to want to write about Konigsberg, not as it is now but as it once was, a vibrant thriving city where my family lived and worked for centuries and my grandmother ran home at the end of her school day to spend time with her parents, three sisters, four brothers and four adopted sisters. The book opens at the end of the “War to end all wars” in 1919
After spending the last months of the Great War as POWs, Wolf Mau and his fellow soldiers are relieved to be back in Germany. Their homeland is defeated, starving, and broken – they didn’t expect a welcome home party. But neither did they anticipate murder … A killer is stalking the medieval streets of Konigsberg. A killer who specialises in kidnapping demobbed soldiers… before torturing them using medieval methods and leaving their mutilated corpses in the city’s red light district. With senior police officials more concerned with politics than crime-solving, it falls to Wolf to hunt down the perpetrator of the sadistic crimes – before he and his remaining friends find themselves on the growing list of victims…
photos to be added