The sins of the past reverberate into the present, in an extraordinary novel by the new master of international suspense.
Art restorer and sometime spy Gabriel Allon is sent to Vienna to authenticate a painting, but the real object of his search becomes something else entirely: to find out the truth about the photograph that has turned his world upside down. It is the face of the unnamed man who brutalized his mother in the last days of World War II, during the Death March from Auschwitz. But is it really the same one? If so, who is he? How did he escape punishment? Where is he now?
Fueled by an intensity he has not felt in years, Allon cautiously begins to investigate; but with each layer that is stripped away, the greater the evil that is revealed, a web stretching across sixty years and thousands of lives. Soon, the quest for one monster becomes the quest for many. And the monsters are stirring...
Rich with sharply etched characters and prose, and a plot of astonishing intricacy, this is an uncommonly intelligent thriller by one of our very best writers.
Part One: The Man From Café Central
THE OFFICE IS hard to find, and intentionally so. Located near the end of a narrow, curving lane, in a quarter of Vienna more renowned for its nightlife than its tragic past, the entrance is marked only by a small brass plaque bearing the inscription WARTIME CLAIMS AND INQUIRIES. The security system, installed by an obscure firm based in Tel Aviv, is formidable and highly visible. A camera glowers menacingly from above the door. No one is admitted without an appointment and a letter of introduction. Visitors must pass through a finely tuned magnetometer. Purses and briefcases are inspected with unsmiling efficiency by one of two disarmingly pretty girls. One is called Reveka, the other Sarah.
Once inside, the visitor is escorted along a claustrophobic corridor lined with gunmetal-gray filing cabinets, then into a large typically Viennese chamber with pale floors, a high ceiling, and bookshelves bowed beneath the ...
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