Thomas Danforth has lived a fortunate life. The son of a wealthy importer, he traveled the world in his youth, and now, in his twenties, he lives in New York City and runs the family business. It is 1939, and the world is on the brink of war, but Danforth's life is untroubled, his future assured. Then, on a snowy evening walk along Gramercy Park, a friend poses a fateful question.
As it turns out, this friend has a dangerous idea that can change the world. Danforth is to provide a place where a "brilliant woman" can receive training in firearms and explosives. This is to be the beginning of an international plot carried out by the mysterious Anna Klein -- a plot that will ensnare Danforth in more ways than one. When the plan goes wrong and Klein disappears, Danforth's quest begins: it is a journey of ever-shifting alliances and betrayals that will lead him across a war-torn world in search of answers. Now in his ninety-first year, at the dawn of a troubled new era, he sits in luxury at the Century Club and tells his tale to the young man from Washington he has summoned, for reasons of his own, to hear it.