In the shadows, from generation to generation, crime is a family business. Among us, from generation to generation, families dedicate themselves lessening crime.
Set in present day Europe, In for a Penny, in for a Pound is a bit of a romance told within the only too real world of international crime. An analyst for an art consulting firm is tasked with a routine, low priority, background check of a client’s statements. The assertions require only that the provenance be established. Spending a few hours visiting a World War II museum on the Dutch island of Texel seems the cheapest way to either conclude the investigation or justify further work.
Dominic offers to take his latest social interest with him to Texel and mix a little business with a long spring weekend. A single simple question to the museum curator ignites a sequence of harassment and intimidation marring their weekend. The ensuing combination of escape and discovery takes the pair across Europe and the Atlantic tracing Nazi era smuggling routes that are still active, still hidden within the fabric of every day commerce and still very profitable. Original obooko synopsis ends.
“This isn’t nostalgic! Look at this place!”
“Well what did you expect? Something out of a 1930’s movie? Billowing black coal smoke, hissing steam, wooden cars; come on, that was 70 years ago.” I shook my head. For the first time in the nearly two weeks I’d known Barb she sounded like a New York Jewish princess.
We’d met because of our mothers. I was working on my backlog of cases. After my fourth cold, wet winter in Amsterdam I was bored. Nothing in my queue seemed worth the effort. Below in the back courtyard of the cafe the lunch crowd had thinned so I’d opened the door to the small balcony. These renovated buildings lacked air conditioning. The minor canal that split the street out front eventually led to one of the ring canals connecting to Amsterdam’s harbor. From what was once the front sitting room you could look down on the tourists that ventured a few blocks away from the Dom square to glimpse the ‘real Amsterdam’.
I glanced at the caller ID on the ringing phone. It was a number my mother had made me memorize before I could go out an play. “Good morning mother. How’s the Island this morning?”
“Just fine, of course.” Her tone, as much as the fact that she’d called me at work at 8 AM New York time, set off alarms that usually foretold dire events. “I was at a meeting yesterday and saw Mrs. Kratz. You remember them. Their eldest son went to school with you. Her youngest daughter went to work for her father, the art importer, when she got out of City. Now they want her to get to know more about the business so they sent her to their shop in Amsterdam. When Mrs. Kratz talked to her yesterday, Barbara that’s her daughter’s name, said she was feeling a little lost and lonely. So I’d like to call Mrs. Kratz back and say that you’ll look in on her. You’ll be at the office for a little while?”
“Yes.” I figured that I had maybe fifteen minutes to go down to the cafe and exchange my empty mid morning mug for a fresh afternoon refill. Hey, there are advantages to working above a cafe and renting from the owner who lives above your office.
Yvette, the owners wife, saw me walking in with my empty mug and had a freshly filled one waiting by the time I got to the counter. I’d been thinking on the way down the stairs how I was going to carry off this ‘looking in on’ to my mother’s and Mrs. Kratz expectations. As a single 35 year old Jewish man, the shadow of his mother’s hand is never far away.