This novel takes place in Berlin in 1948. As a double agent, John Russell works for both the American CIA and the Soviet NKVD. Russell’s wife, Effie Koenen, is a well-known film actress, and she lives in Berlin with their adopted daughter. However, since Russell is a Russian interpreter for the CIA, he goes where he is needed. This takes him outside Berlin to Trieste and Prague, but, now in his fifties, Russell is looking for a way to retire. Russell’s break comes when a Russian defector tells him about an incriminating film he has on Beria, head of the Soviet MGB. This soldier uses the film as a bargaining tool to force Russell to help him and his fiancé escape to America. Russell intends to use the film for his own purposes,
This is the sixth in the John Russell series. David Downing has created a complicated plot with many twists and turns while the hero seems caught in a maze. As is often the case in spy novels, the reader needs a scorecard to keep track of the players as the hero moves from country to country.