Karl Patterson, sometime baseball card dealer without visible means of support, doesn't get along all that well with his father, even though he lives in the guest house of his dad's estate on the Palos Verdes Peninsula near Los Angeles rent free. So he is surprised when Richard Patterson, who is founder and CEO of a successful software company called Dionysus, asks for his help to determine whether the number 2 man of Dionysus, Ned Mackay, has a gambling problem. Perhaps it's because Karl may or may not be a compulsive gambler, himself, depending on whom you ask.
Richard assigns his executive assistant, the exotic and ambitious Arrow, to work with Karl. She appears to have some blood from every ethnic group you can name, and the best of each. She helps Karl connect with Ned, and Karl wangles an invitation to fly with him to San Francisco, which brings up the question of what Ned's relationship is to James Buchanan, a puzzling person who likes puzzles, runs what appears to be an illegal gambling casino, and is CEO of a San Francisco conglomerate that owns a piece of just about everything worth owning. Before Karl can make any progress, Ned is found dead in San Francisco with cocaine in his car.
Karl is questioned by the San Francisco police, and now finds himself trying to determine what happened to Ned, and what effect this will have on his father and Dionysus. Questions about James remain, because he seems to want to gain control of Dionysus, and may help Karl buy an expensive baseball card.
Events keep Karl involved long after his father wants him out. Before he's through, he'll be a frequent flyer between L.A. and San Francisco, with sidetrips to Scotland and England. He will have to learn how to work with Arrow, get along with Jacie, Richard's young wife, try to improve his relationship with his father, and--if he wants to survive--watch his back.