"Your predecessor was sitting in that chair when he shot himself. You can still see the blood stains on the wall behind you."
Central America, 1931. Hilary Manningham-Butler is settling into her new job as passport control officer at the British legation in Guatemala City. Her predecessor Giles Markham is dead, having embezzled a large sum of money from the office's visa receipts and then taken his own life. Freddie Reeves, a friend at the legation, believes there is more to his death than suicide. The weekend before he died, Markham spent some time at a remote coffee plantation in the north central highlands. Freddie knows the owner of the plantation and invites Hilary to accompany him there for the weekend, in the hope that she might be able to discover the truth. Hilary has no intention of getting involved, but when a house guest dies in suspicious circumstances it soon becomes clear that she will not be given the choice.