Goric, a foreign agent, comes to Britain to attend a chess tournament where he will receive some top secret microfilm.
Unfortunately he becomes indisposed so Philip West goes in disguise - having hopefully brushed up on his knowledge of chess.
Two theses, on which Doctor Petrie has based his reputation, are revealed as forgeries. He has been sponsored by Karl Dickinson, scientific benefactor, and Sir Iain suspects both men of not being what they seem.
The pseudo-philosophical Society of Alpha trades in secrets and subversions, tapping the minds of its members by means of hypnosis. Philip West and Diana join the Society as part of their investigation.
A Russian bomber jettisons two nuclear warheads just outside Bulgaria. Sir Iain is ordered to photograph the missiles before they are retrieved. But they are held in a maximum security police headquarters at the fishing village of Borku, and there is less than twenty four hours in which to act.
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