Translated from the original German by Breon Mitchell, this novel, originally published in 2000, tells of the quest of four cousins to discover the mysteries of their common past generations. As children, they start by wanting to learn the source of the “Italian” eyes that set them aside from their playmates. They begin with a Hardy Boys-style gathering of clues and making conjectures about their long-dead grandmother and long-lost-to-them grandfather. Was she really a famous opera singer? Did he fly in the German air force on secret missions during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s? Why are her images carefully eliminated from family albums? Intricately told in crisscrossing points of view and time periods, Spies can become difficult to follow and strained at times, but the challenges of its story is well rewarded as its revelations descend.