Tom Harper is the author of seven novels including Knights of the Cross and Siege of Heaven. He studied history at Oxford University and now lives with his wife in York. In 2005 and 2006 he organised the CWA Debut Dagger competition for unpublished writers.

Crete, 20 May 1941
"Legend said this was the first place men flew. Like artificial birds, they had dressed themselves with beeswax and feathers, launched themselves from the lofty palace and soared over the jeweled sea. They had climbed high, ever nearer the sun – until one, a boy, flew too close, melted his wings and fell. By the time the last feather settled on the water, the boy had slipped beneath the waves, into myth. Now there were men in the sky again. Instead of feathers they flew on wings of silk, and the webbed harnesses which held them would not melt in the sun. Fallschirmjäger, they called themselves: hunters from the sky. They did not fall, but swooped down to the earth like hungry eagles. 

Pemberton saw them from his office window. He had known he was in trouble when the bombing stopped. For the past week it had been a regular terror: the drone of the engines, then the howl of the diving Stukas and the ground shaking under their explosions. Sometimes the bombs had come so near the villa that the artefacts shivered in their display cases, rattling like loose teacups on saucers, until the staff moved them down to the basement. Now the bombs had stopped. The illustrious refugees who had made his life a misery had departed and the staff were all gone – Pemberton had sent them home to their villages and families that morning. He was the only one left. And it was time for him to go....."

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