The year is 1946. A stunned Europe is beginning its slow recovery from the ravages of World War II. Adam Miller has come to Venice to visit his widowed mother and forget the horrors he witnessed as a US Army war crimes investigator in Germany. But when Adam falls in love with Claudia, a Jewish woman scarred by her devastating experiences during the war, he is forced to confront a Venice haunted by atrocities it would rather forget.
Beneath the dream-like façade he discovers a city in which everyone was compromised by occupation, not least Gianni Maglione, the suave and enigmatic Venetian who is both his mother's new suitor and the man responsible for much of Claudia's suffering. When the troubled past erupts in violent murder, Adam finds himself at the centre of a torturous web in which the most valuable thing is not a stone-cold alibi, but the truth itself.
The truth will out in this fantastic mystery from the author of Leaving Berlin and The Good German.
It's late 1945 at the start of this atmospheric historical thriller, and G.I. Adam Miller, officially assigned to ferret out Nazi war criminals in Germany, joins his widowed mother, Grace, who has recently arrived in Venice from New York to resume her life as a wealthy American expatriate. Together, they flow into the social eddies of the upper class, determined to pick up where they left off in 1939. Grace has met an old flame, Gianni Maglione, a distinguished doctor whom Adam suspects of gold-digging. Meanwhile, Adam himself meets Jewish Claudia Grassini, who survived the Nazi pogroms by becoming the mistress of a powerful Italian Fascist. The novel's languid pace picks up when Claudia meets Maglione, whom she accuses not only of being a Nazi collaborator but also of having condemned her own father to Auschwitz. Further complications arise with the appearance of Rosa, an Italian operative and former partisan. Kanon (The Good German, etc.) keeps his complex plot involving murder, elaborate alibis, false accusations and a web of secrets spinning back to the war on track, although the various entanglements aren't always neatly unraveled. Adam and Claudia's love affair provides the requisite romance, but there's no sense that they find much to like in one another. More interesting is Kanon's portrait of a pathetic and hopelessly na ve group of wealthy people out of touch with the postwar world's reality.