In 1973, at the height of the Cold War, the British SIS and the American CIA mount a combined operation to look at some supposedly new military installations in Albania. The operation is disastrously compromised by American double agents and a number of good men die on the Albania Beach near Schenjin.
Seven years later David Gentry is saved from a sniper’s bullet at Bologna railway station when a terrorist bomb explodes killing eighty five people and wounding more than two hundred.
Almost twenty five years later a young Romanian soprano is shot dead as she takes her curtain calls after a performance of La Traviata at La Fenice in Venice.
Two people are present at each of these occasions, Peter Smith, now attempting to follow a quiet life in Arles in the South of France, and Valery Grantkov an old Romanian assassin with a taste for using an equally old Russian rifle. When the assassin decides to make up for the fact that he missed killing Smith both in Albania and in Venice, the retired Welshman finds the tranquillity of his retirement disturbed again by his past resurfacing.