In early 20th century British East Africa, there are rules for the British and different ones for the Africans. Vera McIntosh, the daughter of Scottish missionaries, doesn't feel she belongs to either group; having grown up in Africa, she is not interested in being the well-bred Scottish woman her mother would like her to be. More than anything, she dreams of seeing again the handsome police officer she's danced with. But more grisly circumstances bring Justin Tolliver to her family's home.
Colonel Juan Perón, who had been the most powerful and the most hated man in the country, has been forced out of power. Many people fear that his mistress, radio actress Evita Duarte, will use her skill at swaying the masses to restore him to office. When an obscure young woman is brutally murdered, police detective Roberto Leary concludes that the murderer mistook the girl for Evita, the intended target of someone out to eliminate the popular star from the political scene.
A war against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay has devastated Paraguay. Ninety percent of the males between the ages of eight and eighty have died in the conflict and food is scarce. In the small village of Santa Caterina, Padre Gregorio advises the women of his congregation to abandon the laws of the church and get pregnant by what men are available. As he leaves the pulpit, he discovers the murdered body of Ricardo Yott, one of the most powerful men in the country, at the bottom of the belfry.