When Neil Burnside receives word from MI5 that the wife of the CIA's station head in London is seeing another man, he decides to check up on it for the sake of his friend Jeff Ross as well as security.
Not having taken any annual leave for over two years, Neil Burnside finds himself ordered to accompany Deputy Chief Matthew Peele and Sir Geoffrey Wellingham to a planning conference in Rhodes. As soon as he's left, CIA station chief Jeff Ross asks Willie Caine to help him extract an injured American agent from inside the Soviet Union. Willie dispatches Mike Wallace but too late realizes that they have been set up. In Rhodes, Burnside is approached by an attractive Greek woman and believing her to be a KGB agent, decides to play along.
Neil Burnside wants to plant a sleeper agent, Anna Wiseman, in the USSR but doesn't want to tell the Deputy Chief Matthew Peele, her actual mission. Peele isn't prepared to sanction the mission, so Burnside decides to go ahead with the mission unofficially. The real mission is to embarrass the USSR on its human rights record and Burnside decides that the best way to do so is to create maximum publicity.
When the SIS medical officer suggests that Neil Burnside is under stress and should be rested, Deputy Chief Matthew Peele sees his chance to replace him with the new Director of Intelligence, Paul Dalgetty. The final nail in Burnside's coffin seems to be a secret CIA assessment of the SIS where Burnside is described as a major negative influence. However, when Burnside confronts his CIA colleague Jeff Ross, he gets a different side of the story and goes on the attack.