It is strange to find a crossroads at the very edge of civilization. The little coastal town of Estoril outside Lisbon became exactly that on the eve of World War II. Since Portugal was neutral in the war, it became the point of departure for refugees fleeing war-torn Europe, heading for America. An entire host of Europe’s elite passed through the country, including writers, poets, crowned heads of state, ambassadorial staff, along with a plethora of spies, ne’er-do-wells, cheats, and swindlers. Dejan Tiago-Stankovic invested years of research in identifying all the characters who passed through Portugal, to mention only a few: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Miloš Crnjanski, Jovan Ducic, Ian Fleming, Duško Popov (reputedly the model for Fleming’s James Bond), the Hapsburgs, the Romanian royalty, Zsa Zsa Gabor…The epicenter of the events in the novel is the Palácio de Estoril Hotel with its competent and friendly staff. It was there that Duško Popov was to play one of the most dangerous roles of all, that of a double agent, undercover.
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