Chuck Kelso is an idealist. When he steals a top-secret NATO memorandum, he only intends to leak it to the press; but it is soon in the hands of a Russian agent, a man who has spent nine years quietly working himself into the fabric of Washington society. Within hours it has reached the KGB, and the CIA's top man in Moscow has had his cover blown. For British agent Tony Lawton, hunting down the Russian operative — the 'agent in place' — is a welcome challenge. But for Chuck's brother, the journalist Tom Kelso, and his beautiful wife, Thea, the affair has unleashed a very special terror. Now the race is on to find the Russian spy before a top-level NATO conference. But why is the escaped agent behaving so strangely? Is he who he seems?