After spending the latter part of the war in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp, 1947 sees Bernhard Gunther now married to Kirsten, who seems to be trading sex with U.S. Army officers for scarce goods. Berlin and Vienna were captured by the Red Army, so Germans, former Nazis, Allied occupiers and Gunther have the "Ivans" to contend with. An old comrade from Gunther's days in Berlin, a dirty cop and smuggler named Becker, has been accused and jailed in Vienna for the killing of an American officer and he offers Gunther big money to investigate the case and spring him. The case throws Gunther into the topsy-turvy world of former Nazis hired by the U.S. to spy on the Russians but who of course have certain agendas of their own. His investigation also parallels the filming of The Third Man by a British film crew in the city and what happens to him mirrors the plot of the film in subtle ways. There are more plot twists and betrayals, leading to a shocking climax at a secluded vineyard estate, with brutal Latvian guards, a wine press and other figures from Bernie's past.