Requiem For A Gypsy by Michael GenelinRequiem For A Gypsy by Michael Genelin

Requiem For A Gypsy

byMichael Genelin

Paperback | July 17, 2012

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The fourth Jana Matinova Investigation

When the wife of one of Slovakia’s most prominent businessmen is killed in a very public assassination, it looks like the bullets were meant for her husband. But could she have been the primary target? Commander Jana Matinova must push through her own government’s secretiveness and intransigence to discover what connects the murder of Klara Boganova to an anonymous man run down in Paris, a dead Turk with an ice pick in his eye, and an international network of bank accounts linking back to the Second World War.
Michael Genelin is a graduate of UCLA and UCLA Law School. He has served as a consultant for the US State Department and USAID in Central Europe, Africa, Asia, and Haiti, and he is the author of the Jana Matinova series.
Title:Requiem For A GypsyFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:368 pages, 7.48 × 5 × 0.96 inShipping dimensions:7.48 × 5 × 0.96 inPublished:July 17, 2012Publisher:Soho PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1616951605

ISBN - 13:9781616951603


Read from the Book

Chapter 1The old man in the Dodgers cap walked down oneof the center aisles of the Saturday outdoor marketon Boulevard Richard Lenoir. It was early enough in themorning to avoid the crowd that would be there in the nexthour. As always when in Paris, he visited the huge marketto reexperience the sights, sounds, and smells of the cityhe’d first enjoyed so many years ago. It took him, for themoments he was there, out of the modern Paris that waslosing so much of its character. Too much clogging motortraffic, too many fast-food chains, supermarkets, and girlsin gym shoes and baggy, stained khakis—and, of course,there was the array of beggars. Outside the market, he sawthe very essence of what he thought of as French comingunder attack.Here, the old Paris was still present: the merchants intheir separate stalls under the canvas, the vegetable-standstaffers shouting their specials, the fishmongers extollingfresh cod and bream, the pastry and bread stands waftingtheir scent over the neighboring rows, competing withthe bouquets of the olive stands, which boasted dozens ofdifferently colored, sized, and seasoned olives. These, inturn, complemented and contrasted with the smell of thechickens turning on spits and sausages being stewed, fried,or roasted in the stands farther down the aisle.The booths went on for blocks, and Pascal, as he wasknown in Paris, made sure to traverse the whole market,picking up tidbits from here and there to keep him inedibles for the next several days. The scene was like an oldmovie that had been colorized, so vividly chromatic thatit made him feel as if he were inhabiting a rainbow dreammade of food.When the main body of the Saturday shoppers arrivedto crowd the aisles, Pascal sighed, disappointed that hiscomfort time was over but ready to leave, his purchasesstored in the two-wheeled shopping cart he’d bought afew days earlier. Once you get on in years, the prospect ofcarrying bundles in your arms, even just for the few blockshe had to walk to his apartment, becomes onerous; so he’dbrought the cart, even though it was not regarded as themasculine thing to do.Pascal crossed over to the other side of the boulevard,glancing up at the golden winged figure at the top ofthe monument on the former site of the Bastille, thenwalked the short distance around the traffic circle toSaint-Antoine, making his way from the monumenttoward the tourist-friendly Saint-Paul area where he hadhis apartment. He walked a few blocks, and then, like somany Parisians do, perceiving that it was safe to ignorethe traffic light, he cut across Saint-Antoine. The old mannever saw the truck that hit him. Almost the exact centerof the front bumper struck Pascal, the blow scatteringhis cart and groceries and sending Pascal himself flyingthrough the air, slamming through the plate glass of a busstop, its shards raining all over the street.Pascal was killed on impact, so many of his bonesbroken that he looked like a jelly-filled scarecrow whenhe was put into a body bag and lifted onto the coroner’sgurney. The truck driver had driven on as if he hadn’tjust killed a pedestrian, abandoning the truck severalblocks from the collision. The truck proved to be stolen,so the police could not find anyone to hold responsible,which always angers police officers. And Pascal had threeseparate sets of ID on his person, which made things evenmore troubling for them. After all, how can you notify thedecedent’s next of kin, or even inform his landlord, if youdon’t know who he was or where he lived? The problemwas passed on to the detective bureau.The detective assigned to the case sent queries out toboth Europol and Interpol, transmitting photographs ofthe dead man, shots of several tattoos found on his body,prints taken from him in the morgue, and all the nameson his IDs. Let them do their job for a change, the detectivereasoned. While he waited for identification on thevictim, he moved forward to his next pending case. Theywere all piling up, and he only had so much time to spareon any one of them.Pascal, or what was left of him in writing, stayed onthe detective’s caseload for the next six months withoutanything being done about him. If he had still been alive,he would have approved and encouraged the lack ofaction. Pascal had been a man who prized anonymity; andbesides, as he’d always reasoned, being dead was a plus.Nobody ever bothered you when you were gone. “Gone”was a wonderful euphemism. You were just somewhereelse. So, he was not there.Chapter 2The discussion, if that was the word for it, had nowlasted for close to two hours. The relatives of thedecedent—his mother and father, an aunt, a grandmother,and two sisters, all of them gypsies—were demandingaction against the killers and were not listening toCommander Jana Matinova. Their dusky skin, dark hair,deep-set eyes, and volatile hand gestures were a whirl offrustration. They had come to criticize the police for theirlack of action in the teenager’s death, and they were pouringout a continuous flow of angry despair. The boy hadbeen hunting and had stumbled when climbing througha fence, shooting himself in the neck, which had abruptlyended his hunting and his life. The family members hadconvinced themselves that the teenager had not shothimself, but that his two companions had engaged in aconspiracy to kill him.Jana had gone over the facts very carefully, had readthe statements, the coroner’s reports, and the investigator’sfindings. Everyone who had touched the investigationhad come to the same conclusion: accidental death.The youths had had one shotgun between them, usingit for alternate shots at rabbits, squirrels, and any otherrodent, bird, or large insect that came their way. Theyhad been larking around and become careless, which isalways a mistake when dealing with firearms. It was nota conspiracy but certainly a tragedy, which was why Janacontinued to listen attentively to everything the familysaid. She interrupted only to correct misstatements of factor gross exaggerations, hoping that the family would slowtheir anguished outbursts to the point where they wouldlisten to her, even for a few seconds.Jana eventually sensed them winding down, their sighscoming less frequently, their voices becoming lacklusterand falling into a lower register, their eyes growing duller.She took advantage of the moment, conveying to thefamily that she would consider everything they had toldher, reexamine all the facts objectively, and make a judgment.She singled out the father, the head of the clan, andtold him that she would call within the next few days tolet him know her conclusion. The family thanked her forlistening, and Jana gave the mother, the grandmother, theaunt, and the two girls individual hugs. The father vigorouslyshook Jana’s hand, tarrying for a moment to whisperto “Madam Commander” that his son had been a goodboy. Then they all filed out, trailing a small wake of tearsbehind them.Jana sighed as she closed the door. It was always like thatwhen people abruptly lost a loved one, particularly whenit involved a violent ending. There was never enoughsatisfaction for victims in any investigation or prosecution.There was no way that any police officer could bringthe dead back to life or give the relatives of the deceasedanything approaching what they really wanted: to see, tohold, to kiss their loved one one more time. In that way,every case was unwinnable; the relatives always continuedto mourn, and too many police officers became depressedat what they perceived as their ultimate failure: that theycould not make anyone whole again.Jana did what every cop tried to do for themselves inthese situations: put the family, and the emotions that theyhad generated, behind her. She had just sat down at herdesk, ready to leaf through the reports one last time, whenSeges, her warrant officer, knocked at the door and cameinside. He was carrying a small parcel in his hands.“For you, Commander.”Jana took the parcel, noting that it had been opened.“Did you enjoy reading the material, Seges?”“We’ve been told to always check for bombs in parcels,Commander Matinova.”“You thought this might be a bomb?”“Just doing my duty, Commander.”“Was it interesting, Seges? Anything salacious inside?”“A request from another agency, Commander. Morework.”Jana slipped the materials out of the mailer box. “Morework? My goodness, we may have to earn our pay.” Segeswas notorious for trying to avoid anything that suggestedlabor. “It’s required on occasion, even for warrant officers,Seges.”There was a series of reports inside the package, allwritten in French, a number of photographs, and a coverletter in Slovak. Jana read the letter, a query from theirliaison in Europol trying to determine whether a manwho was the subject of a French police investigation as avictim in a crime might be identified by the Slovak police.Europol had concluded that he was a Slovak on the basisof one of the tattoos on his body. Jana examined the photographsas she talked to Seges.“You checked the materials. Is he a Slovak?”“The tattoo is in Slovak.”“Not the thing he would do if he were not a Slovak,”Jana agreed. She looked closely at the photographs of thetattoo. It was an image with two lines of text. The inkeddrawing was a black ensign with a large white circle inthe middle, the circle containing a single vertical stripecrossed by two parallel stripes. The stripes were vaguelysimilar to the double cross on the Slovak flag. The twolines of text, one above and one below the ensign, readNas Boj and Na Straz.These mottos, “Our Struggle” and “On Guard,” hadno resonance for Jana. The tattoo was different from thetattoos on the other parts of the man’s body: it was quitefaded and stretched out of shape. An older tattoo, Janathought, one that had been put on his left bicep when hewas very young, perhaps even when he was a small child.She rotated the photo of the tattoo on the desk so thatit faced Seges. “Recognize the symbol?”“I’ve never seen it.”She rotated the photo back. Something tugged at theback of her mind as she studied it. “‘On Guard.’ I’ve heardthat before.”“A fencing match?” Seges sniggered.Jana looked up at him, sighing internally. The man wouldnever change. “Thank you for delivering the package. I’lltake care of it now.”Seges stayed where he was, his face expectant.“Yes?” Jana began putting the papers back in their box.“You want more?” She paused, remembering what he wasanticipating. “Ah, yes. Did I ask Colonel Trokan if he hadapproved your request for a transfer? I not only asked him,I practically begged him to approve it. He sneered at me,and then berated me for my cover letter suggesting thatthe request be granted. The colonel seemed to feel thatI was trying to slough you off onto another supervisor. Iassured him that I was.” She shrugged. “I had to tell thetruth. A commander does not lie to a colonel. ColonelTrokan laughed and laughed and laughed, then told meno. ‘No!’ with an exclamation point. He said maybe at theend of the year. Then he laughed again. The colonel is avery cruel man.”“Yes . . .”Jana favored Seges with a dour look. “Are you takingit upon yourself to claim that the colonel is a very cruelman? I’m entitled to say that, because I’ve known him solong. You, however, are not.”Seges looked like a rat caught in a trap of its ownmaking.“I . . . agree, Commander.”“Good.” She put the package from Europol on top ofthe reports about the dead boy. “Have a good day, Seges.”“Thank you, Commander.”He did an about-face and left the room, leaving thedoor open.“You’re supposed to close the door behind you, Seges,”Jana muttered to herself.She checked her watch. She had to go home, freshenup, and get dressed to go to a party being given by one ofthe new breed of businessmen that the country was hellbenton developing: high-profile figures who wanted to beinternational players and were determined that everybodyshould love and admire them for their ruthless corporateplundering. So far, at least, tonight’s businessman, thelarger-than-life Oto Bogan, had miraculously avoidedcriminal prosecution and so was still on the “we can associatewith him” list for police officers.Colonel Trokan had been pressed into going to theparty by the president of police. Bogan had been a generoussupporter of the minister of the interior since thetime when the minister had first become a member ofparliament; and because the minister was currently out ofthe country, the president of police had pushed Trokan togo to Bogan’s party as the minister’s representative.Trokan, having long experienced men like Bogan,wanted someone to go with him so there would be a witnessto everything Bogan said or did in his interactionswith the colonel. It was not beyond a man like Boganto later make ridiculous claims about having been givenpolice promises by Trokan at the party. It would be Jana’sjob to refute any and all claims of special favors, or whateverproblematic inventions the serpentine mind of aBogan could come up with.On the positive side, Colonel Trokan might be able toget in a few words with the financier about the need forpolice budget increments for the new community policingprogram, and it was possible that he could get Bogan toput in a good word with the minister about it. The manmight even be persuaded, as unlikely as it seemed, tosponsor a part of the program himself. After all, he was abudding politician, and wouldn’t it look good to the electorateif he contributed to a law-enforcement program?Jana got up and stepped to the coatrack, putting on herwinter jacket, and then stopped herself. She went back toher desk and pulled the photographs sent by Europol out oftheir box, looked at one of the multiple-angle photographsof the tattoo with the Slovak writing, then tucked the photointo a pocket. Jana thought she knew where she could getan answer to the meaning of the tattoo. While she was at it,she also decided to take the file on the youth who had shothimself. She’d promised the family to assess it. Maybe shecould get out of the party early, go back home, and finishher reappraisal. The family needed closure, and it would betorture for them if she delayed her conclusions.First, she went down to the holding cell area to look forSmid. Smid was a retired police officer who was allowedto work for part-time wages as a cellblock guard. Theman’s pension was miserable, so he was glad to have thejob. He was old, perhaps too old for this kind of work,but even the prisoners liked him. The man was thicksetand given to rolling his eyes whenever he ran into aproblem, but he was also easygoing and—surprisingly fora jailer—cheerful and polite to the inmates. He was alsothe unofficial institutional historian for the police department.He remembered, in minute detail, everything thathad happened—good, bad, and indifferent—within and tothe agency over the last fifty years.Jana found Smid in the anteroom to the cells, wherehe’d just sat down to eat a late meal with a prisoner.The two men looked up, and Smid stood as Jana camein. He nudged the prisoner. “Get up. Show respect to asenior officer.”The prisoner jumped to his feet.“Sit, both of you.” Jana pushed down slightly on Smid’sshoulder as both a gesture of affection and an addedimpetus for the man to sit. Both men sat.“This is Yuri, Commander. He’s one of the prisoners.”Smid gestured at the man. “Very good with a mop. So Igot him an extra meal today,” he said, by way of explanationfor his eating with the prisoner. “Besides, we’veknown each other for years.”Jana eyed the prisoner. “Too much to drink too often?”she asked.Yuri nodded, spooning in a mouthful of food.Smid smiled at the man’s obvious enjoyment of hismeal. “He doesn’t say much, but he’s a long-time acquaintance,and I’m so old that I’m running out of them.”Jana gave a slight assenting nod to Smid’s breaking of therules. “Sorry to interrupt your meal, Smid, but I want youto look at a photo and then tell me what you can about it.”“Sure, Commander.” He wiped his hands on a napkin,pushed his nearly finished meal to one side, and gingerlytook the photograph she handed him by its corners, layingit in front of himself.“A tattoo that I think may have started out in Slovakiabut that wound up on a dead man in France,” Janaexplained.“One of our exports that went bad?”Jana smiled at the joke. “Possibly.”Smid studied the photo of the tattoo for a few momentsand then nodded, looking up. “I recognize it.” Smid’s tonecarried a sense of pride. “I always come through.”“Tell me.”“The Hlinka Guard. Second World War, under Tiso.Their salute was the same as the Nazis’, only the Hlinkassaid Na Straz instead of Heil. The Nas Boj faction of theGuard was the worst of the worst. Ugly men. They operatedunder the SS and murdered anyone they could, givenhalf an excuse. The Nas Boj led the roundups of the partisansand Jews and gypsies, all the while stealing everythingthey could get their hands on for themselves. Criminals;all of them murderers and thieves. Estates, jewels, money,gold . . . and women.”He looked more closely at the photograph. “I didn’t knowany were still around. Most of them were killed by the Russians.Some of them on the Eastern Front. More at the timeof the occupation. Others fled with the Nazis when theyretreated. They didn’t survive either. Well, a couple of themhere and there.” He looked up at Jana. “He also could havebeen one of their children. A number of the creatures wereso proud of their nastiness that they had their own babies tattooed.As the old saying goes, ‘Like father, like son.’”He handed the photo of the tattoo back to Jana. “Didyou get this man’s name?”“They didn’t know it.”“When I said they were thieves, I wasn’t joking. Thefew that did survive were known to continue practicingtheir criminal professions after the war. I had some ofthem in here. Check the records in the old files. Welogged them.”“You and your son want to earn a few euros?”Smid knew the old records like no one else. He’d eventrained his son, now the proprietor of an old and rarestamp shop. Lawyers, prosecutors, private counsel, or thedepartment itself would occasionally pay the duo to gothrough the voluminous non-computerized portion of thepolice records to find the odd bit of information that wasneeded in a case.“My son can use it more than I can, but what the hell?It’s fun working together with him, so why not?”“I’ll approve it.”“Three days’ work,” Smid suggested.“I know the two of you. No extra day; no extra money.All you get is one day.”“Two days.”“A day and a half,” Jana countered.“Done.”She dropped the photograph in front of him.“Thank you, Smid.”Jana turned to go.“If anything’s there, I’ll find it,” he called after her.“I know you will.”She walked out.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Requiem from a Gypsy“Rich in compelling plot twists and sobering history lessons. It also showcases Genelin’s skills as a writer.”—The Washington Post“[Genelin] depicts vividly the effects of old-style corruption on the burgeoning democratic society in present-day Slovakia, and can weave together a fast-moving whodunit populated with flamboyant characters who flit through the European capitals . . . Every character, major or minor in the plot, just about jumps off the page. Mr. Genelin seems incapable of writing a dull page.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette“Genelin once again makes present-day Slovakia a compelling backdrop for murder in his superb fourth novel featuring Police Commander Jana Matinova (after 2010's The Magician's Accomplice) . . . Genelin's no-nonsense lead will appeal to fans of strong female detectives such as Kinsey Millhone, V.I. Warshawski, and Jane Tennison.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review“Genelin's writing flows effortlessly as he propels Matinova from one crisis to the next.”—Post and Courier“Jana, one of the more intriguing characters in fictional thrillerdom, makes fallibility seem like a virtue.”—Kirkus Reviews“This is one of the better international mystery series currently available. Make sure to suggest it to readers who also enjoy the European police novels of Helene Tursten and Donna Leon.”—Booklist“An engaging read, full of deftly drawn characters who must somehow see through a mazy reality that conceals the contrast of light and dark in shadows, behind screens, and in the rooted passions of the human heart.”—ForeWord Reviews