Beguiled by an old man's stories of his shtetl, Benjamin Palmer, a failed financier, travels to Ukraine in the irrational hope that the old world will launch him on a path to a new life. But quickly he is kidnapped on the streets of Kyiv and held for ransom in an unnamed hamlet close to the Carpathian Mountains. His cell is a rustic cabin that he shares with Marya Ivanova, an attractive young psychologist. His imprisoner is an unrepentant Bolshevik, Ilya Petrov, the son of Soviet heroes, who doesn't permit his lawlessness to diminish his utopian ideals. Palmer's estranged wife, Caitlin McCoy, a fiercely ambitious television celebrity, is informed of his kidnapping by the State Department. Maddened by stalled negotiations for his release, intrigued by the opportunity to make a documentary about her husband's disappearance and her search for him, she elicits the help of a former mentor, and heads to Ukraine. Caitlin's search and Ilya's scheme ultimately clash in a whirlwind plot filled with memorable characters, utopian idealism, and political intrigue.