Even in the midst of the rapine that was Warsaw under the Nazis in 1942, the sadism evident in the ritual murder of a prostitute stirred hardened men to a desire for justice. One witness had glimpsed the insignia of a German general, but who could bring a German general to book? It took twelve years and the police of Poland, France and divided Germany to catch up with the periodic killer protected by his membership in the always powerful German officer class. From 1942 on, three generals who were suspected continually cross each others' paths. There was Tanz, the essence of the amoral robot of destruction; Von Seydlitz-Gabler, wife-driven Junker left over from an older tradition; and his chief of staff, Kahlenberge, the exemplar of the opportunist. At one time or another, the hapless Lance Corporal Hartmann, a total innocent in war, is under the command of each general providing the necessary contrast and occasional comic relief. Kirst's control of characters caught up in the peculiar structure of German army life was demonstrated in The Revolt of Gunnar Asch and The Officer Factory. This novel presents in microcosm his view of the army as a continuing factor in Germany's socio-political set-up and he makes it a solid man's mystery to boot.