The wartime pact -- an ironclad document -- between SS Gruppenfuhrer Reinhard Kleist and metallurgist Dr. Otto Kessler guarantees the latter a half million marks if he develops a nearly impenetrable new alloy. The top-priority research project, Infernal-Proteus 9, gets underway in Frankfurt though not without the participation of an anti-Nazi chemist acting as a sleeper agent for the British Secret Service. Kessler becomes resigned and despairing -- his devotion wanes, then turns once he realizes the tyrannical exigencies of his work. Meanwhile in London a noncomitant ideological struggle at MI 6 proves equally divisive when intuitive Trevor Grey is pitched against his pragmatic former partner Douglas Trenchard. Is Trenchard a double agent? Could Kleist be the protean personification of evil? Methodical, prolix -- yet still a divertingly offbeat teaser.