The Waiting Time

During the years of the Cold War Dieter Krause was an important officer in the Stasi – East Germany’s secret police. One night in 1988 he and his men captured a spy, Hans Becker, and they killed him. Ten years on and the wall has come down, the Stazi has gone but Krause has managed to keep himself popular and in a position of influence by providing the West with tit-bits of information on a Russian colleague Rykov, who is seen as a potential Russian leader with hard-line military policies.

While visiting a British Army base Krause is attacked by Corporal Tracey Barnes. She was one of the British military contingent in Germany back in 1988 and it turns out that she was present when Krause killed Becker. She has decided that it’s time Krause should pay for the murder.

Josh Mantle is a former soldier who gets involved and travels to Germany to help Tracy. Krause and his former-Stasi men have something in common – they can’t afford the murder to be made public so they set out to intimidate and silence the few witnesses from 1988. Meanwhile British Intelligence are watching with interest because this whole affair could bring down the Russian Rykov. What everyone agrees on is that Barnes and Mantle are expendible.

An excellent book, in fact one of my favorite Seymour novels from the 1990s. The post-Cold War setting works very well with everyone on all sides willing to overlook events from the recent past.

The Waiting Time was filmed by Carlton Television in 1999 and shown in two parts. It was a very close adaptation of the book and stared popular British TV actor John Thaw as Mantle.

American title: Dead Ground