It is February, 1929. Cyrus Skeen is hired by an Austrian aristocrat whom Skeen calls a "One-Worlder Gadabout", Count Paul Axel Heinrich Joachim von Wormuth-Esterházy, of Vienna, to find out who is trying to kill him. He gives Skeen a list he has compiled of 20 attempts to murder him, including flowerpots are dropped from above, a bottle of poisoned schnapps is given to him in a "welcome basket", and nearly being run over by a speeding automobile. The count has three suspects who may want him dead: consular officials from the German and Austrian consulates in San Francisco, and an elusive American ne'er-do-well who acts as the Soviet Union's unofficial consular envoy. Skeen interviews the count's suspects and learns that they indeed do not like the man. But do they hate him enough to commit murder? Skeen himself does not particularly like Count Esterházy or his idea of forming a European Union that would erase the borders on the Continent and nullify the sovereignty of each nation on it. His challenge is to learn who is trying to erase the count. And then someone tries to erase Cyrus Skeen.