Nicola Ward is a divorced schoolteacher living in Maine when a mysterious (and long-delayed) trunk arrives from Shanghai. Inside are family papers, photographs, and several pieces of priceless Russian art. To authenticate the art (and translate the diary bundled with it), Nicola hires Neil Walker, a burnt-out former CIA operative. Neil's spy-world training comes in handy when Nicola starts receiving death threats clearly connected with the contents of the trunk. What stirred up the hornets' nest? The Russian collection, which seems to identify Nicola as the heir to the Romanov throne? Or could something in her family papers point to a Soviet mole in the U.S. government?