Dragged from the dank, rat-infested prison cell where he has spent the past few months, Buonaparte Sartene is given a choice: join the French Resistance or rot in jail for the next seven years. The adopted son of a Corsican Mafia family, Sartene is a thief with a capacity for violence and a knack for subterfuge - valuable tools in the fight against the Nazis.
Cold War Marseille is a city of shadowy alliances and loose morals, where a good man can lose sight of which side he is really on and evil men profit from the misery and confusion of others. It is therefore the perfect town for Ernst Ludwig, an East German terrorist who is sadistic beyond measure. But when Ludwig kidnaps and murders the wife of Alex Moran, the US intelligence agent hot on his trail, he sets off a blood feud whose violent shock waves will span decades and reach all the way across the globe.
"My favorite spy novel thus far!"
Trapped in what appears to be an endless bloodbath - vividly presented with Heffernan's meticulous historical research - three boys gradually begin to change until their close-knit childhood ties are little more than a fractured memory. By war's end, one boy is dead, one returns a physically crippled and emotionally compromised man, and the third comes home as an unfeeling psychopath. The novel turns on the subsequent murder of the psychopath, and the offer of redemption for the wounded young man.