A U.S. Navy Chaplain concludes his tour of duty and subsequently immerses himself for two years in the mental and physical rigors of martial arts in Japan. His odyssey progresses as he works his way home on a cruise ship, across the country with odd jobs and finally crews two more years on tall ships in the Caribbean. He ultimately settles in Stow Massachusetts where he buys an old church building to renovate as a home and opens a martial arts school
His new tranquility is turned upside down by the sister of a Navy Chief with whom he served. She lures him to Rhode Island on a mission of protection for her brother and his marina. He responds partly from a sense of friendship and duty, but is taken with her beauty and determination. They develop a romantic relationship almost as quickly as they are beset by a series of mysterious attacks on the marina, her brother and, ultimately the two of them as well.
The protagonist, Smith Gale, calls upon everyone he can think of to help him ferret out Chris and Berney's enemy. He consults a Massachusetts State Trooper for advice. He calls in a security expert (an electronics whiz with a bad back and an empty love life) to counteract eavesdropping equipment. He involves his former cruise ship captain as a venture capitalist angel and engages Kim, his martial arts assistant, to protect his own home.
Nothing seems to abate the danger as their sailboat is threatened at sea by a power boat, his car is bugged and then bumped on the road, a pet dog is poisoned, Berney is hospitalized by an explosion and Smith must fend off a house intruder who leaves his 45 behind. The story heats up even more when Smith gets wind of Chris' totally self-absorbed ex beau and his former Stasi operative aide de camp. It moves inexorably to a deadly and surprising conclusion, in which love, beauty, force, rape, greed, power and obsession coalesce.