Newlyweds honeymooning in stumble into a hornets nest of American-Chinese political intrigue. Nicolas McCayne, who once served as U.S. Naval Attach to , is now an associate professor of international relations at . His capriciously adventurous bride Laura is a successful trial attorney.
Things take an unexpected turn for the couple in during a diplomatic reception for Tsun Ziyang, a man the CIA believes is plotting to become s next president. fly as Nick and Tsun argue the politics of and further intensify after Tsun and the McCaynes embark on the same five-day cruise.
Aboard ship Tsuns tiny red notebook falls into Lauras hands. Chinese and Egyptian thugs working for Tsun commit murder while trying to recover it. Convinced the notebook contains crucial intelligence information, the newlyweds risk death attempting to get it into the right hands.
They are aided by a mysterious stranger, British soldier of fortune Michael Hastings. Together they flee the killers in a desperate race through the to where they face a nail-biting escape from by boat. Matters conclude in with a surprising twist that reveals how Chinese takeout can be murder.