In 1972, Mason Skile is a Lebanese American diplomat who lives with his Lebanese wife, Nadia, in Beirut, taking care of a 13-year-old boy named Karim who claims he has no family. While at a party, Skiles is approached by a CIA friend, Cal Riley, who wants to ask Karim questions about his brother who was involved in the Munich massacre.
Everyone at the party is assaulted by Karim’s brother Rami, who kidnaps him and, in the chaos created, Nadia is shot dead. Ten years later, Skiles became an alcoholic and worked at a corporation in New England. While he is in the middle of signing a contract, he is approached by Sully, an older customer who represents the US government.
Sully tells Skiles that he has been asked for an academic reading in Lebanon and offers him transport money, a ticket and a passport. Skiles is reluctant at first, but eventually accepts the offer to return to Beirut. He meets several State Department officials, Donald Gaines, Gary Ruzak and Frank Shalen, and CIA officer Sandy Crowder, telling them that Riley was recently kidnapped in Lebanon, and his kidnappers demanded that Skiles deals with the negotiation of his release.