With a respectful nod to le CarrÃ‰, the author of Agents of Sympathy (1985) tells a complex tale of espionage, escape, treachery, and betrayal set in today's East and West Germany. Giovanni Stears, a charming, half-Italian CIA agent, is the star in his production, but the real heroes are Renate Segla, a young escapee from East Germany, and East German General Sucher, mastermind of a plan to pry his country from the grip of the Russians. Sucher has sent an emissary, August Herter, over the fence to the Americans to enlist their help in his effort. It is up to Stears to prove that the General and his emissary are on the up and up. As Stears gets to work, so do the Russians, who have gotten wind of Sucher's mischief. They prevail on Oswolt Krel, the morally lofty head of a politically neutral West German escape organization, to sweet-talk his adoring student, Renate Segla, into returning to the East to ferret out the facts about Herter. She is most reluctant, but she does go, soon finding herself trapped and without hope in an evil world she thought she had escaped forever. Steam and the Russians race madly to discover General Sucher's identity so that they may either free or destroy him. Herter is in danger, and Renate seems certain to be trampled in the process of discovery. Probably too complicated and almost certainly too long, but worth it for the fine characters, moral dilemmas, and the return of the richly bleak German scenery so dear to fans of George Smiley.