Winter. 1942-3. The war is turning against Germany on the Eastern Front. The Americans land in North Africa. Meanwhile, in Bordeaux, Superintendent Lannes - himself an object of suspicion, with one son in Vichy and another with de Gaulle's Free French - investigates the murder of a woman. It looks like a crime of passion. His subordinate, Inspector Moncerre, calls it 'a pre-war crime', one which they may be allowed to solve. But the dead woman has been engaged in activities which have attracted the attention of the Vichy Secret Service, the Germans, and even the Resistance. The investigation will lead Lannes into dangerous territory. He has family problems, too, with his wife sinking into depression and his daughter in love with a boy of whose politics and ambitions he disapproves. His own disaffection is sharpened by Vichy's complicity in the deportation of the city's Jews. Things, he fears, will get worse before they get better, as divisions between Vichy and the Resistance threaten civil war.