Read More Beer Online

Authors: Jakob Arjouni

More Beer

BOOK: More Beer
7.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


“As winning a noirish gumshoe as has swooped onto the mystery scene in some time.”

The Washington Post

“Jakob Arjouni’s downbeat detective Kemal Kayankaya has proved as enigmatic as Columbo, as erudite as Marlowe and occasionally, as crazed as Hammett’s Continental Op.… Arjouni forges both a gripping caper and a haunting indictment of the madness of nationalism, illuminated by brilliant use of language: magnificent.”

The Guardian

“A worthy grandson of Marlowe and Spade.”


“Arjouni tells real-life stories, and they virtually never have a happy ending. He tells them so well, with such flexible dialogue and cleverly maintained tension, that it is impossible to put his books down.”

—El País

“A genuine storyteller who beguiles his readers without the need of tricks.”


“In the emphasis on action and quick-jab dialogue, readers will notice an echo of James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler, but Arjouni’s stories also brim with the absurd humor that made
The Sopranos
so entertaining.”

—Vikas Turakhia,
The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“This is true hardboiled detective fiction, realistic, violent and occasionally funny, with a hero who lives up to the best traditions of the genre.”

—The Telegraph

“A good thriller doesn’t need a specific milieu but it can be so much more satisfying when it has one. Jakob Arjouni was born and bred in Frankfurt and does a remarkable job of turning what is often considered Germany’s most boring city, into a vivid setting for violent crime capers … Arjouni’s [four] Kayankaya novel[s] … deserve to be better known in the English-speaking world.… If you like your investigators tough and sassy, Kayankaya is your guide.”

—Sunday Times of London

Copyright © 1987 Diogenes Verlag AG Zurich
Originally published as
Mehr Beir
Translation copyright © 1994 by Anselm Hollo

Melville House Publishing
145 Plymouth Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

The Library of Congress has cataloged the paperback edition as follows:

Arjouni, Jakob.

[Mehr Bier. English]
More beer : a Kayankaya mystery / Jakob Arjouni; translated from the German by Anselm Hollo.
   p.   cm.
eISBN: 978-1-61219-102-7
1. Private investigators—Germany—Fiction.  2. Frankfurt am Main (Germany)—Fiction.  I. Hollo, Anselm.  II. Title.
PT2661.R45M4413 2011



APRIL 1986
Two hundred thousand demonstrators expected in Vogelsberg

MAY 1986

According to today’s edition of
Le Monde
, the German concern
Rhein Main Farben
has sold basic ingredients for the manufacture of mustard gas to Iraq.


Mr. Zoetemelk, a Dutch shipowner, has confirmed to journalists that his firm shipped several hundred barrels of chemicals produced by
Rhein Main Farben
to Iraq. He claims to have had no knowledge of the contents of these barrels. A spokesman for
Rhein Main Farben
disclaims any wrongdoing on the factory’s part: “We were told the chemicals would be used purely for civilian purposes.”

Rhein Main Farben complies with Hesse Government’s request to halt
production until further
notice Mayor of Frankfurt on Rhein Main Farben payroll as legal consultant

JUNE 1986
Death of a great man

“Friedrich Böllig was not only an outstanding comrade-in-arms in the struggle for a clean future. He was a friend. All who knew him will remember his consideration, kindness, and fairness. As the head of one of the last family-owned concerns in our field, he worked indefatigably
for the development of new remedies, particularly those used in the treatment of childhood diseases. Friedrich Böllig’s premature and tragic death is cause for universal grief.”

Confirms she is Rhein Main Garben shareholder
Does “Red Army Faction” have “green” successor?
Rhein Main Farben urges prompt decision

Maximilian Funke, President of the Board of Directors: “If the Hesse Government does not grant us a permit for our projected plant in Vogelsberg, we must assume that the murderers of Friedrich Böllig acted in the spirit of that government. It would make me very happy if such a suspicion proved unfounded.”

Former Mayor of Frankfurt appointed President
Of United Nations Environmental Security Council


The coffee was weak and the soft, moist cheese sandwich must have spent many days in the refrigerator. I tore chunks off it and washed them down with coffee. The sticky counter smelled of beer. Two meters to one side, a rumpled man dozed over his corn schnapps. From time to time he blew his nose, then wiped his mouth and forehead with the same handkerchief. He was staring at the framed verses above the sink:
. I glanced at the sports pages next to his elbow

“How did Gladbach do?”

“Lost, two to zero,” he mumbled, without raising his eyes.

I rapped on the counter.

“More coffee. A little stronger.”

The proprietress pushed through the brown bead curtain, took my cup away, and brought it back with a refill. Her ample bosom was swathed in a ball gown from which her arms, neck, and head protruded like sausages. Her rear was adorned with a purple satin bow, her wrists with fake
gold bracelets. Her hair had been dipped in liquid silver. Hertha was the owner of Hertha’s Corner—open twenty-four hours. The place was large, dark, and empty. The dusty bottles behind the bar were lit up by fluorescence. Raindrops rattled against the dirty windowpanes. In one comer stood the table reserved for regulars, with its wrought-iron emblem, a wild sow waving a beer stein. Hertha was rinsing glasses. A fly landed on my mutilated sandwich. I lit a cigarette and blew smoke rings around the fly.

Time passes slowly in these early morning hours. It was eight thirty. My court date was at nine. I went to the john. The latch was broken, and the flushing mechanism leaked water onto the floor. When I came out again, the radio was playing “Oh Schnucki, oh Schnucki, let’s travel to Kentucky …” Hertha swayed in rhythm with the tune. The guy at the bar used his snot rag again. Then he grabbed his glass with both hands and knocked back the schnapps in one go. He slammed the glass back onto the counter.

“Hertha! One more.”

“Now, now, Karl. You’ve had enough.”

Karl pulled a wrinkled fifty-mark bill out of his pocket. “You think I can’t pay? Is that what you think?”

“Put your money back.”

Hertha arranged the rinsed glasses on the shelf. Karl lit a cigarette. After a while he glanced at me.

“Gladbach, eh?”

I nodded. He scrutinized me from head to toe. Then he turned away, growling, “Well, this is Frankfurt.”

The radio was playing “When Heidi and her Hans, tah-rah, tah-rah …” I picked the newspaper off the rack.

. The trial of four members of the Ecological Front begins behind closed doors.” It was a quarter to nine. I paid and left Hertha’s Corner.

Outside, the wind was driving the rain diagonally across the street. Fall. I pulled the brim of my hat down, dug my hands into my coat pockets, and stayed close to the wall. At the intersection, the furious rain whipped my face, and water began to slosh in my shoes. Everything looked gray. Only a few neon signs interrupted the dreariness of the concrete wasteland. Empty cans, milk cartons, cigarette butts, garbage floated down the gutters and got stuck in the drains. There were streaks of dog shit on the sidewalk. People with umbrellas charged past me. Women stood chatting in the doorways, waiting for the rain to let up. I could feel my coat getting drenched. A taxicab splashed puddles onto my pants. I kept going, slipping on cartons and vegetable refuse, until I reached the courthouse steps. The door fell shut behind me. Like a leaking bucket, I left a wet track on the stone floor.


Two cops barred my way. I pulled out my private investigator’s license.

“I have an appointment with Dr. Anastas.”

“We don’t know him.”

“He’s the defendants’ attorney.”


A squad was pacing up and down the hall, submachine guns at the ready. The cop looked up from my license.

“Your I.D.”

I showed it to him. His companion scratched his chin, raised his walkie-talkie, and recited my I.D. number into it. After he received the all clear, I had to spread my legs. They didn’t find anything. “Upstairs, second door on the left,” they told me. A bunch of journalists were lounging in the waiting room, which smelled of cold tobacco smoke and wet clothes. They were all chattering away with supreme self-importance. A pretty thing with long dark hair sat down next to me.

“Cold, isn’t it?”

She sniffled.

“Sure is.”

She snuggled down into her fur coat.

“What paper you with?”

“My Wife and Your Car.”

“I see.” Pause. “Don’t know that one.”

I lit a cigarette.

“May I have one?”

I lit it for her. We smoked for a while. What did that attorney want from me? Why had he asked me to be here so early? She was studying my profile. I leaned back and closed my eyes.

“You’re not a journalist.”

“Right you are.”

“I can tell.”

“I see. How?”

“Well, you have no camera, you don’t talk, you don’t know anybody, and now you’re taking a nap.”

She smelled nice. Something heavy, from France.

“Nonsense. I’m a Turk. That’s how you can tell.”

She ground out the cigarette under her heel.

“Maybe.” Pause. “So—why are you here?”

“I’m a private investigator. Don’t ask me why, I just am. And I’m waiting for someone.”

Now there was a commotion by the door. Cameras were focused, note pads raised.

“A private investigator—and a Turk? I’m supposed to believe that?”

“Take it or leave it.”

The noise level rose. The pack was straining at the leash. My avenging angel moved closer.

“Have you been living in Germany for a long time?”

“My father was one of the first Turkish garbage collectors of this republic. He brought me here when I was a year old. Soon after that, he was run over by a car. I was adopted by a German family.”

“And your mother?”

“She died when I was born.”

She mimed compassion.

“Oh, how terrible.”

I pointed at the door.

At that moment, the double doors to the courtroom swung open and the reporters charged. She took her leave and dived into the melee. There was a lot of noise in the hallway. I stayed put and contemplated my soaked shoes. Then I too entered the courtroom. The attorney was answering questions from a group of newspaper people. Cameras flashed incessantly, camcorders jockeyed for position. Off in a corner, a guy was broadcasting live, manically yelling into his mike. Policemen were posted by doors and
windows. I sat down on a bench. My clothes were wet and stuck to my skin. The place was drafty, and I was cold. I lit a cigarette and watched the court clerk, who was waving his arms at me from a distance, presumably to indicate that smoking was prohibited. Ten o’clock. Five minutes later, the attorney walked over and sat down next to me.

BOOK: More Beer
7.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Wicked Seduction by Jade Lee
Clancy of the Undertow by Christopher Currie
Mutual Release by Liz Crowe
Trust in Me by Skye Warren
Trust Me by Peter Leonard
Temple of The Grail by Adriana Koulias