Shortly after the fall of Paris in 1940, Hieronymus Falk - a brilliant young jazz trumpeter who made his name in Berlin - is arrested in a café and never seen nor heard from again.
He is black - and a German citizen.
Falk and his fellow bandmates Sid Griffiths and Chip Jones fled Berlin the previous year.
But as Sid puts it: "We...known [we] wouldn't fend off the chaos forever.
Ain't no man can outrun his fate."
But what really happened to Hieronymus Falk?
Fifty years later, Sid and Chip return to Berlin - but Chip has received a mysterious letter which sets the pair of them on a new journey to uncover the secrets of past.
But the heart of the story is set in those wartime days in Berlin and Paris.
It's a jazzman's tale, with a language and preoccupations that give us a very fresh take on some well-known historical events.
Half Blood Blues sings of betrayal, loyalty and creative ambition, with the thought that if you don't tell your own story others may tell it for you.
And they just might tell it wrong...
The Hot-Time Swingers are disintegrating.
Paul has been sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, Fritz has decided to stay in Berlin and still there's no word from Delilah.
Ernst, Sid, Hiero and Chip have driven to Hamburg waiting for papers that will take them to Paris and a meeting with Louis Armstrong.
Esi Edugyan has degrees from the University of Victoria and Johns Hopkins University.
Her work has appeared in several anthologies, including Best New American Voices 2003.
Half Blood Blues is her second novel.
Her first The Second Life of Samuel Tyne - written when she was 25 - was published in 2004.
Esi currently lives in Victoria, British Columbia.
Abridged by Jeremy Osborne
Read by Ricky Fearon
Produced by Rosalynd Ward
A Sweet Talk production for BBC Radio 4.
By Esi Edugyan.
In Hamburg, Ernst, Sid, Hiero and Chip try to escape to Paris.