An innocent young German receives a rude awakening at the hands of world-weary decadents in fin de siäcle Paris--in a polished tale from the prolific JÅnger, a 97-year-old author who's acclaimed in Europe but little known here. Diplomat Gerhard is admired for his looks and valued for his honesty, but his inexperience and introverted nature leave him open to suggestion. When a chance dinner with a faded French aristocrat brings him to the attention of the bored, beautiful wife of a Navy Captain, Gerhard's companion, a bon vivant turned bilious, arranges a liaison between the two for his own amusement. The dream of a discreet romantic interlude is destroyed, however, when a woman is savagely murdered at the door of their room, and all of Paris is scandalized at the thought that London's Jack the Ripper might have crossed the Channel. The homicide investigation is in the capable hands of Inspector Dobrowsky, but, meanwhile, the Captain has sought Gerhard out to demand satisfaction as a wronged husband. With the young man in a fog of confusion, the duel is easily arranged, and is averted only at the last moment when Dobrowsky learns of the deed and arrives to arrest the Captain for murdering the woman, whom he had mistaken for his wife. Delicately mannered and full of nuance, this is certainly subtle--but a side effect of its careful, quiet understatement is that is seems over before it's really begun.