This is ostensibly a novel about espionage, and it delivers in that department very well. It has, however, a number of qualities that make it interesting to readers who may not normally read spy thrillers. The main character is the greatest living conductor--on a par with Toscanini. The story of how he achieved prominence raises a number of questions that are interesting from a literary point of view. Since we know that many great geniuses (Wagner is an example) led deplorable personal lives, the idea that this character would abandon and even kill some of the people who loved him and would live much of his life on the basis of lies and deceptions is quite credible. The method for telling the story is to have the Maestro deliver his autobiography as a full confession to a secret agent who must evaluate how he should be treated given that he betrayed his country as a spy for Hitler in World War II and also gave secrets to the Russians during the cold war. In the latter case, though, he believed he was actually serving his country. As the story progresses we get it from the point of view of the author, of the Maestro who is telling it, and of the agent who is listening to it. This causes us to see the same material from several different points of view, which makes it more challenging to determine our own judgment of the characters and events described. Thus we have a work of far greater complexity and literary interst than the normal spy novel. On top of all this, the author shows a vast knowledge of music and keeps dipping into specific performances on recording, many of which are compared with the Maestro's own fictitious recordings. This delicate balance between history and fiction is constantly fascinating, making us speculate about what life would be like if a few of its ingredients were different. The novel held my intereset consistently throughout as it seemed to bridge many differnt genres at the same time. Though I never lost interest, I was not driven to read it quickly, as is so often true with thrillers, which then leave a sense of emptiness behind them. This one will keep me thinking for years.