Karl Braun is a cultured German gentleman who works as a piano tuner in the London of the mid 1960s. Many of his fellow emigres assume like them he fled to England to avoid the Nazis.
In the summer of 1965 he courts one woman, is pursued by another, and attends classical concerts. The newspapers begin to report the trial of the prison guards and medical staff of the Wittau concentration camp.
A former colleague of Braun’s called Hein dies in front of Braun when they meet on an early morning tube train. Braun has to leave Hein where he is to cover his tracks unless a connection is made between Braun and the Brotherhood in Argentina. Braun dates a naïve woman called Helen, whom he takes to restaurants and classical music concerts . He tells her stories about his former life in Paris where he worked as a press photographer.
Braun doesn’t have many possessions but does take particular care of a set of false teeth. Braun’s nightmares worsen as the reports of the activities at Wittau become public knowledge including the medical experiments of a particular doctor. His guilt and paranoia increase, he believes he’s being followed by Nazi hunters and being spied upon by police informers. Eventually, he sees an opportunity to escape when Helen goes on holiday with friends to the south of France. They travel to Paris where Helen insists that Braun show her all the places he frequented during his time there.
She heads to Millau, he heads to Zurich to pick up some money from a bank account that was deposited at the end of WWII. His intention is to head to Buenos Aires but his fears get the better of him and he visits Helen in Millau. They visit the Chaos de Montpellier-le-Vieux where she gets heatstroke and ends up in hospital. He leaves her as he’s seen the people who are following him. Convinced they’re out to get him, he puts in the set of false teeth.
At the end of the book, when an investigator reads some excerpts from the file he has on ‘Karl Braun’, some of the stories seem familiar to Helen…