Annie Young breezes into my flat apologizing over and over for being late. She is the heroine of my Third Culture Kid series and she talks about different murders she ran across and how they were solved. Today we are going to discuss Murder on Insel Poel, but not before we had cups of tea and a chocolate eclair in front of us.
Me: Why did you go to Insel Poel?
Annie: I had an assignment from the museum there to do some French and English translations. I was really looking forward to it. It’s the type of assignment I love, more than explaining some dreary machine or software.
Me: I’d never heard of the Island.
Annie: You aren’t alone. It’s in the North of Germany not that far from Denmark. Germans and Scandinavians go there for summer holidays, but in winter, when I was there, it is mainly locals. (She rummages in her purse and pulls out a map.) People say it looks a bit like a gorilla.
Me: (I nod in agreement.) So what happened?
Annie: Every thing went skitty west.
Me: Skitty west?
Annie: I was walking on the beach. I love the beach in winter when I’m the only person there. The sand was really fine, finer than Argelès sand. The air was frigid, but it felt good because I was bundled up. Then in the dune grass or whatever you call those long yellow stalks, I saw bodies of two Asian women.
Me: That must have been a shock. (Annie looks at me and we both know it was stupid statement.)
Annie: If that wasn’t depressing enough, I learned in WWII, a German luxury ship had been filled with prisoners from Neuengamme Concentration Camp, not far away. I went there and spent an afternoon listening to oral histories of survivors of the camp. There was one about a partially Jewish family. The daughter dreamed of being a swimmer and that didn’t really match her family’s goals who were more intellectual than sporty.
Me: (I don’t say, that must have been depressing.) What did you learn?
Annie: The British thought that the ship was loaded with Nazi officers so they sank the boat. Most perished and made it to shore. I also learned that the Nazi’s planned to scuttle the ship themselves.
Me: Wow. Killing witnesses.
Annie: I also learned about the pilot and how he was in love with the daughter of a very small-minded vicar and about a German family trapped in the nightmare. Their stories were fascinating and had a slightly better climax. Oh, and yes … one of the women I made friends with on the island had a daughter that was being abused by her mother’s boyfriend. She showed up on my doorstep one night.
Me: Did anything go right?
Annie: The girl was okay. I did a good job. And we found out who murdered the Asian women. By the time I left, I was exhausted. Tomorrow do you want to discuss the murder that happened in Ely. It even has international banking implications.