The novel starts at the beginning of the Russian Revolution with a young man named Josef, a Brit who sides with the Communists. He becomes a spy for them but flees the organisation when he witnesses atrocities committed to non-Communists. He escapes and tries to live an ordinary life - however his wife is murdered and his young son stolen - undoubtedly an act by the Communists.
The novel then focuses on different spies within Britain. In particular in looks at the SIS's investigations on five Russian spies. They arrest the spies and they are tried, with all of them receiving prison sentences.
Joe Shapiro, head huncho of the Russian division of the SIS, wants to exchange one of those convicted (or more if necessary) for a spy that was caught in Russia, a young pilot named Powers. However, the exchange doesn't seem fair as the pilot is really a nobody, and the spy captured in Britain is someone Moscow wants to get back! But the deal is layered - Shapiro also wants a young spy the KGB captured as part of the deal that is to remain secret.
This report prepared by Louisa Eggleton