Edward Mercer's mission had seemed so simple. A benevolent, unknown American father wished to repay a debt of gratitude to the man who rescued his son during the war. A man who carried the broken-legged boy for two days through snow to receive the medical help he desperately needed. A man who then disappeared. A hero. That man was Gian Uccello.
Mercer, an ageing man for hire struggling to maintain his relevance in a young person's world, heads to Venice to track down Uccello. However, finding him proves no easy task as his search unearths secrets, lies, assumed identities and an incendiary conspiracy. Surrounded by beautiful women, vicious gangsters, disbelieving police and precious few allies, he finds himself falling down a rabbit hole he never saw coming. But Edward Mercer is a "stubborn and stupid man" who won't be bought off nor accept the constant lies he is fed, so he pursues the case to its tense and potentially fatal conclusion.
The colourful Venetian background is brilliantly drawn and the story unfolds with the speed, realism, excitement and suspense which one expects from Victor Canning, a master story-teller.