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When a news item on the radio prompts Alan Turnbull to phone a friend he doesn't realize that it will involve him in an international crisis. An academic specializing in Balkan Studies, Adam is a widower living quietly in London. His main concern is his newly-graduated daughter, who hasjust been offered a job as a journalist by the youthful and ambitious head of a small independent television company. The action takes place a few years into the future, when Britain has a coalition government led by the Liberal Democrats. Adam's knowledge of the former Yugoslav republic of Thracia is sought by both a multinational company and by government, when valuable minerals discovered in Thracia rekindle animosity between different ethnic groups. Caught up in terrorism and diplomatic deception, Adam witnesses how political, religious and NGO groups try to manipulate the media and are, in their turn, manipulated. His unwitting involvement also brings him into intimate contact with two attractive young women.