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At the start of this smart, intriguing puzzle from British author Starling (Vodka), Herbert Smith, "once of the British Army, latterly of MI5" and now a detective with "the Metropolitan Police's Murder Squad," draws the case of a drowned man found in a Hyde Park pond. Normally, this would be a rare occurrence, but it's 1952 and London is gripped in a fog so miasmic that stumbling into a pond can easily be written off as a simple accident. It's not, of course, and Smith's investigations bring him into contact with a scientist who possesses a secret that will change the future; a beautiful, blind police diver, Hannah Mortimer; several Russian spies; British turncoats; and a Nazi so reviled that even today his name evokes absolute evil. Where most thriller writers plumb the depths of imagination for their earth-shattering secrets, Starling does just the opposite by employing the reality of history. It's a difficult trick, but once again he pulls it off with panache. (Mar.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.