A Nazi dagger in the mail lures a middle-aged Californian back to Germany, where he was adopted and where his recurring nightmares seem to be set--in a chilly post-reunion thriller by the author of A Land of Mirrors (1988), etc. The dagger in question, a particularly rare bit of SS regalia, has been seen before. It was among the souvenirs belonging to journalist Brian Lockwood's late adopted father, a career officer who played a mysterious role in the Nuremberg trials. The knife disappeared on a visit to the Lockwood house by Brian's louche Uncle Dean, a sticky-fingered dealer in art objects and antiques. Now here it is back again. Lockwood, recuperating from a mild heart attack and a divorce, knows that the return of the dagger has something to do with Uncle Dean, but does it also have something to do with the shadowy figures lurking around Brian's Monterey peninsular home? And is there a link to Brian's journalistic investigation into the activities of the Stasi, ex-East Germany's horrid secret police? There is an unsigned note from Uncle Dean packed with the knife. It urges Brian to follow the lead of the name on the hilt. Unpleasant things begin to happen to the people around Lockwood before he can even leave the neighborhood to begin his investigation. But he is not put off. He expects to find out not only whose knife he has, but why his adopted mother loathed him, why his father's career went off the rails, why his father adopted him in the first place, and who it is he dreams about when his sleep is disturbed by childhood terrors having to do with his abandonment in a German wetland. Sedate and rather agreeably gloomy in the old mid-century spy fashion. If only it weren't quite so predictable.