Winter 1943. Under orders from Admiral Doenitz, the offbeat detecting duo of Gestapo Hauptsturmführer Herman Kohler and Sûreté Chief Inspector Jean-Louis St-Cyr (Kaleidoscope, 2001, etc.) travel to Brittany in Occupied France to investigate the murder of a widely loathed shopkeeper. Préfet Kerjean has arrested U-boat captain Johann Kaestnes for the crime, but Paulette, the shopkeeper’s abused daughter, announces that her father knew a secret about the relationship between stunning Madame Charbonneau and the Préfet and the Captain. Madame’s stepdaughter hates her, her concert-pianist husband is dementedly digging up artifacts in the hills, and bits of an antique doll belonging to her family have been found near the shopkeeper’s corpse. Could that doll have anything to do with the missing funds the shopkeeper and Kaestnes were going to use to open a doll-making business? While Kohler concentrates on the German confederates of Kaestnes, St-Cyr inquires into the disappearance of Kerjean’s son—and runs afoul of a protective husband, clandestine shipping, and blackout restrictions on the reading of old press clippings. Palming a cyanide tablet conveniently left available, St-Cyr succeeds in stopping a suicide, but Kohler is too late to rescue Paulette and her wheelchair-bound mother. Nazis loom. A Jew is uncovered. In the end, Kohler and St-Cyr barely have time to absorb the tragic resolution of the case before they’re assigned to yet another murder.
An edgy tale replete with searing instances of wartime terror and the desperation it drives people to.