Jack Hinkley, the underachieving MI6 Station Head in Barcelona, is tired of watching the cable-car ply between the harbour and Montjuïc from his office window. But when a hijacked plane is forced to refuel at Barcelona, where it is successfully stormed, among the surviving passengers seen disembarking live on shaky long-focus television lenses are two KGB agents of interest. The natural order of things in the shadow world is suddenly out of kilter.
So begins a run of close surveillance, kidnapping and coercion that ultimately leads to a hunt for a mole in London. Once again, our man, Jack, finds himself marginalised.
Instead of sinking in the toxic inertia, he uses the time to help his brother get back on track, and to rebuild his relationship with his estranged wife. Then, in a street of cramped houses in Chelsea, somebody fires a shot at him. In the shadow world, lessons are learnt late – sometimes, too late.