Chapter One, from The Doctor Dines in Prague:
With the telephone receiver tucked under his chin, Fenimore continued packing. As he listened to the repeated staccato rings--European, not American--his anxiety rose. After a dozen rings he hung up.
He had been calling his cousin, Anna, in Prague every day for two weeks, to no avail. He had assumed she and her family were away-- at their summer cottage. But three nights ago, when he had called at four A.M.--Czech Republic time--the receiver had been lifted for a split second. No one spoke. He detected no sound of breathing. And as soon as he said, "Hello," the receiver was replaced. That was when he'd decided to go to Prague.
It seemed crazy, even to him, to take such a long trip simply because someone didn't answer their telephone. But he had a strong feeling that something was wrong--call it intuition. And he couldn't let it go. He owed it to his mother to look into it. Anna was his mother's sister's only child, and his mother and her sister had remained very close, despite the geographical distance that had separated them for all those years. He had been in closer touch with his cousin, Anna, recently because her husband, Vlasta, was ill. He was suffered from angina--a suffocating pressure in the center of the chest caused by too little blood getting to the heart. They had been making plans for him to come to the States for a complete cardiac evaluation. Then, suddenly, they had dropped out of sight.
Some people might wonder why Fenimore didn't notify the Prague police. This did not occur to him. Since he'd been a small child he had heard his mother's tales of the police. The secret police. The Gestapo under the Nazis; the KGB under the Soviets. These stories had come from his mother and her family in Prague, and they had remained indelibly engraved in his mind. Despite all the noise about police brutality in the United States, the fear of the police here was nothing to the terror of the police in Central Europe.
©2003 Robin Hathaway