Alex Cloud knows he's being followed. He only has a short period of time to find Flame and bring her back to the ship in order to leave Shanghai alive. China has turned Red, and an American newspaperman's life has turned worthless. Dodging from one risky situation to the next, Cloud runs into Haigmann, a canny middle-man who seems to think Cloud has something of value. Eventually Cloud finds Flame, but she wants nothing to do with him. Undaunted, he's sworn to get her out of Shanghai, but now finds himself carrying a lethal pack of cards with a microfilm of names glued into them. Now they're both on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of the spies and thieves who want that filmready and willing to kill anyone to get it.
"Don't get ... mixed up with a woman. My mistake..." The dying words of Jim Cabot's European contact ring in his ears as finds himself being trailed by one woman and tempted by another. His mission is to locate Borsilov, a defected Russian scientist. His predecessor, Max Becker, died trying. And already Cabot has been knocked senseless and his life threatened by two gunmen as he tries to track down the missing scientist. Behind the threats is an Italian Red named Major Racasoli. Pitted against them all is an English opportunist, Sydney Jardine, who wants to sell Borsilov to the highest bidder. But those dying words of warning mean nothing to Cabot now, because he has met Pia--and all bets are off.