My love affair with Munich just got even more passionate this week, after the launch of the German edition Not Dead Enough (Nicht Tot Genug), part of which is set in Munich. To my delight, Nicht Tot Genug went straight into the Spiegel bestseller list at No 21 joining the paperback of Looking Good Dead (Stirb Schön) which is currently No 7 there.

I had been getting hints from my publishers for some weeks that my friends in the LKA had a big surprise for me, but they stubbornly refused to tell me what it was… The LKA (Landeskriminalamnt) is the German equivalent to the FBI. Once a year they host a reading by a crime writer in their Munich Headquarters, in their very atmospheric indoor shooting range. I guess the idea being that if they don’t like what the author is reading they can pump a few bullets into him or her… This year they chose me as the author and the event was used to launch the annual Munich Krimifest — run by Andy and Sabine Thomas – which is absolutely my favourite festival in my whole crime writing calendar.

I do all my German readings with the incredibly talented “Greatest Living German Actor” Hans-Jürgen Stockerl — we alternate, reading chapters in German and in English, and then do Q&A in both languages. He also does the German audio versions of my books.

Inside the firing range, with German actor Hans Jürgen Stockerl

Last year the LKA team, who have been incredibly friendly to me during the past few years and who have been extremely helpful in my research, had given me an amazing surprise at last year’s Krimifestival, when under the pretext of inviting Helen and I out to dinner, they collected us in a marked car from the hotel, whisked us away with the lights ablaze and siren wailing, and proceeded to give us a brilliant white knuckle tour of Munich like no other I’ve ever had! (As an aside, one thing all the police officers around the world who I have ever met, male and female, have in common, is that they all, without exception passionately love driving under the emergency lights and siren. And I confess, I come totally clean on this, being in a police car travelling at high speed is a fantastic thrill — better than any funfair ride by far!)

PJ being whisked around Munich in a marked car

Prime Minister’s bodyguard at the wheel.

This shows the thickness of the bullet proof glass

PJ cleaning up the streets of Munich!

There was an amusing postcript to this. Apparently as we drove off, the hotel manager came running out after us, thinking we had been arrested, and weren’t going to pay the bill!!!

So you can imagine I was wondering how the LKA were going to top last year. Well… they did! They sent the Bavarian Prime Minister’s personal armoured car, a bullet proof BMW 7 series, together with his personal driver and bodyguard, Kriminal Hauptkommissar Joachim Huber, (pictured) to give us an even swifter ride than last year around Munich, including a visit to the private quarters inside the parliament building, then, a lesson in defensive driving (and some great tips about how to nudge a car off the road — something that will be very useful in my next motor race!) Then, joy of joys (!) they let me loose in the gun room!!!!!

PJ protecting Helen

OO James. With an authentic James Bond Walther PPK.
Ready to help the LKA with the arrest!

The French Resistance gun

The pictures show me with a Mauser, then the classic Walther PPK as used by James Bond. Then a very strange and primitive pistol, which used to be supplied to the French resistance during the War and is called, appropriately, “The Liberator”.

And… there was one further highlight yet to come… the LKA team informed me that on a routine screening of the guest list of 150 people, for security purposes, they discovered that two names on the list were on the Munich police wanted list! After further enquiries, one was eliminated, as just having the same name as a wanted person, but the other was for real. So, a team stood on guard at the entrance ready to arrest him — and I was all set for dramatic action, (although I did ask them if they would allow him to buy a book before they clapped on the handcuffs…!), but sadly the man never showed up. Clearly he wised up at the last minute to the fact that it is not too smart for a wanted felon to turn up to the LKA headquarters. Shame though, it would have made for a good debate – when does a book signing become a crime scene…..?

When does a PJ book launch become a crime scene?