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"I was in bed with my brother's wife when they came to tell me he was dead."
Gerhard Herold, a young East German has lived in his brother's shadow for years. Wolfgang Herold had been stationed in London, a senior export executive for East Germany's toy manufacturing industry. The news that he is to be his dead brother's replacement in London makes little sense to Gerhard, but at least the new job will give him the opportunity to escape the deadly routine of his life, and to find out what happened to Wolfgang . . . perhaps.
Working in London, living in the flat previously occupied by his brother, under the careful eye of the East German secret services, Gerhard starts to suspect that his brother was not the random victim of an unknown assassin, but was murdered because he had stumbled across sensitive, explosive information that powerful men wanted to keep secret.
As he begins to dig deeper, he joins forces with a young American, Elizabeth Allanton. At first they share only a common desire to find the truth, but soon they become lovers. Their search for the facts behind Wolfgang's mysterious death leads them into the treacherous clutches of both the East German and British intelligence services. As they struggle to escape the security net tightening around them, a sordid tale of greed and corruption - with Wolfgang at its very heart - begins to emerge . . .
Published just before the Berlin Wall came down the novel provides a bleak picture of the West from a Eastern European perspective in the closing phase of the Cold War. And the picture isn't flattering.
"Intriguing thriller . . . buttonholing mix of commerce and killing...narrator's nationality provides an unusual perspective." - The Guardian.
". . . makes London feel as nasty as Greene's Vienna." - The Times.
Andrew Taylor's 30-plus novels include the bestseller, The American Boy, chosen by The Times as one of the top ten crime novels of the decade; the Roth Trilogy (filmed for TV as Fallen Angel); the Lydmouth Series; Bleeding Heart Square; The Anatomy of Ghosts, shortlisted for Theakston's best crime novel of the year; and The Scent of Death (February 2013).
His most recent awards are the CWA Diamond Dagger and Sweden's Martin Beck Award. He is The Spectator's crime fiction reviewer. Further information: www.andrew-taylor.co.uk and on twitter @andrewjrtaylor.