A significant role in the narration is played by the dreams and visions of Emil Boyev, which, like in life, inform both the hero and the reader which thoughts, images, and persons wander in the subconscious of a brave intelligence officer, torment his conscience, do not give him rest, but, nevertheless, cannot penetrate into his mindflow when it actively works and therefore can repel heavy reflections, sad pictures, painful memories. Most often, dreams and imagination draw him meetings with the leaders of his reconnaissance mission, during which Boyev, as a rule, is forced first to justify himself, then defend his methods of work. At the end of the novel at such a meeting, he is already discussed at all, like the one who died at the hands of the villains from the Zodiac, that is, the CIA, while performing a dangerous task in the very den of enemies.
It is noteworthy that during these imaginary conversations, Boyev hears not so much praise as criticism. Given the fact that at these mental meetings he criticizes himself with the mouths of his superiors from intelligence, one can conclude that the main character is constantly unhappy with himself. Such a critical view of one`s own actions prevails throughout the whole stream of his consciousness. The whole book, consisting of analysis by Boyev of his own actions, is written in a rather self-critical and unhappy tone, which looks somewhat unusual, since socialist propaganda required to represent its heroes as knights without fear and reproach, most often defeating their enemies and overcoming difficulties, but not suffering defeat and not falling into a mess.
"Well," says at last general, as if interrupting some idea of his own. "And how do you evaluate your work yourself?" "The evaluation is clear," I answer. "The evaluation is very bad. However, I joined the action at a time when the operation was under threat of failure, and I could do only what I did." This is the typical course of Boyev`s thoughts, and he will be faithful to it until the very end of the novel, down to that rather difficult for perceiving imaginary scene in the chief`s office, where Boyev will no longer be present, but even after his conditional heroic death, the leaders will concentrate not on his indisputable achievements and the goals which he achieved, but on his mistakes, miscalculations, fallacies.
"Again I see a meeting in the office of the general, this time without me, for I no longer have the physical opportunity to attend any meetings. The general is silent, lost in his thoughts, but it is very similar to that minute of silence, although no one has reproduced the corresponding phrase. "Yes," the general sighs at last, from which it follows: whatever it is, but the work does not wait, it`s time to get to work. "Was a good guy, although a dreamer," says, as if to himself my boss. "Excellent practitioner," the colonel specifies, so as not to say how I underestimated the analysis and scrutiny of operation. "Excellent practitioner, quite like Angelov, and just like Angelov... He does not finish, but the end of the phrase is clear to all."
And further on in the same manner: ""The case with Boyev is somewhat different," the general repeats. "Boyev died before the very final. The final could be quite good, but Boyev died, and the situation became more complicated: to tell the truth, now we have enough of these data, and we can continue the operation without delay. This is Boyev`s merit - before taking risks, he took care of the inheritance." I`m not sure that the general will say exactly that, and generally speaking all this is the fruit of my imagination, but the fact that I took care of the inheritance is a fact, and the one who will replace me will not have to puzzle over a lot of riddles - he will immediately deal with the operation, not in a way which I did, but in his own way, so that the finish line is victorious".
A separate line in the narration is formed by Boyev`s relationship with women. At the beginning of the novel, he flirts with Anna Ferrari, the mistress of Karlo Morandi, an official of the Venetian branch of the Zodiac firm. The author spends quite a lot of time describing a fleeting affair with Anna. At the end of the novel, he builds a relationship with Edith, the secretary of Boyev, acting under the name of Maurice Rolland, but in fact, Edith is GDR`s intelligence officer Doris Holt. Above his girlfriends, Emil often teases, and these ridicules lighten up somewhat basically gloomy and sullen tone of the narrative. However, if in the case of Anna Ferrari the love affair at work develops strictly according to plan, revolves mainly around the money spent on her and focuses on trying to find out everything that Boyev needs to learn about the activities of Morandi, then the same love affair at work with Edith turns into something more for Emil.
This woman causes him a lot of tender feelings, which flare up in the heart of the Bulgarian knight of cloak and dagger especially strongly on a rainy street during a passionate kiss, the need for which was dictated by conspiracy considerations, and at the moment of parting with Edith, or rather the already revealed intelligence officer Doris, at the train station at the very end of the book. It becomes clear that a cold-blooded intelligence officer, carefully planning the most complicated operations and fearlessly taking the desperate risk, hides deep inside a sensitive and vulnerable nature, prone to sentimental feelings, nostalgia, memories of past happiness, regrets about the impossibility of returning it. Through these pictures, the author tells the reader that Boyev is a simple ordinary person, and not an impassive robot, who is deprived of the ability to feel, suffer, dream, worry.
It must be admitted that the author treated Boyev very cruelly, depriving him of his family environment not only in adulthood but since childhood. From the long digression in the ninth, the last but one chapter the reader learns in detail how hard the fate of Boyev was from a very young age. He grew up in a childcare shelter, but even that was not enough for his treacherous fate. Having earned money at the freight station by honest labor, overloading the watermelons, young Emil then came face to face with extortionists who beat and robbed him. These misadventures already at the dawn of life taught the future intelligence officer to act simultaneously decisively and deliberately.
"Hit first! This is not bad, but only in that case if you are dealing with a coward or if one of your punches will be quite enough. Otherwise, you risk. Sometimes you have to look for another way out. In short, be able to not only punch but also avoid the punch. And nevertheless, when a battle is inevitable, it is better to be the first to punch. What I am doing." It would seem that Emil, who had eaten plenty of bread and wine in his life`s journey, needs to be given a chance to find happiness at least at the very end of the novel, but the author here, too, for some reason focuses attention on the fact that Boyev breaks up with Edith forever. But if in the book she just leaves by train, leaving him alone on the platform, thereby at least theoretically giving a chance for a new meeting of those who are not indifferent to each other, a spy and a woman-spy from the fraternal countries of the socialist camp, in the script for the film Rainov treated Emil completely ruthless in this scene too.
Rovolt, Zodiac`s full-time executioner, who at the very beginning of the book crushed on the Buick Emil`s colleague Ljubo Angelov, in cold blood shoots from a submachine gun Edith, while she was standing on the footboard of a moving carriage. The Bulgarian actors portrayed this moment of the truly last parting masterfully, and the dynamic spy detective turns into a bright and strong drama. Wounded Edith, losing consciousness, still clings to the handrail of the departing car, and, after seeing the shooting scene, Emil, who used to carry a pistol, does not try to take revenge on Rovolt, who had taken away Emil`s second friend, but only runs after the outgoing car, catching the last moments of Edith-Doris` life, as if trying to take away from the cruel fate at least a few more seconds of happiness, for which his life was so mercilessly stingy.
One can only guess why the final of the already dark history author-screenwriter Bogomil Rainov aggravated with the death of Doris. The most likely answer to this question would be the assumption that the need for this was dictated by the tradition of realism, which, judging from the whole outline of the novel, then clearly dominated in the writer`s genre palette. Trying to convey the darkness and horror of everyday life as completely as possible, Rainov, who did not make a plan to cut short the life of Doris in the novel, did not spare her in the script for the film. Thus, he really brought the viewer closer to the harsh realities of espionage fate, and therefore the film based on his script plunges deeper into the scout`s everyday life full of drama than his own book.