In the aftermath of the Second World War, Vienna is a crucible of fear and superstition, tense with the beginnings of the Cold War and riven with double agents. Robert Inglis, a young British army officer, has been posted to the ruined city to assist in restoring order and control. In the bitter cold of that post-war winter, a mystery railway wagon arrives from the east carrying a cargo of starving, half-dead men, among them the talented journalist Georg Kerenyi. Inglis forms an uneasy friendship with Kerenyi, and it is through him that he meets and is captivated by Julia Homburg, once the star of Vienna's theatre and now hidden away in the Austrian countryside, engaged in her private struggle to overcome the sorrow and devastation of the war.
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