Master Sergeant Alvin Templeton, USAF, went missing from his highly-classified job at Forbes Air Force Base. Thirty-five years later, his son, Robert Templeton manages to get Sandeen interested in the disappearance. The Air force thinks Sergeant Templeton is a deserter; his son thinks he's a victim of a murderous misdeed.
As Sandeen looks into the matter, he learns that Sergeant Templeton was a man with an eye—and a camera—for the ladies. He may or man not have been into pornography, but he was certainly into infidelity. Beyond that, Templeton was an actor, appearing in local performances under assumed stage names, and always in a role that required a lot of makeup that hid his real appearance. Managing all that, while still holding a critical job in the Air Force was a lot for any man to handle, and Sandeen wonders if he didn't just walk away.
During the early stages of the investigation, Sandeen becomes involved with a woman named Amanda Carter, a Wyoming cop who seems to know more about Sandeen's business than she should. Still, he's attracted to her, and maintains a relationship that may not be good for his long-term health.
Digging even deeper into the mystery, Sandeen begins to think that Alvin Templeton is a ringer. He travels to Oklahoma to check into Templeton's roots, and after some due diligence learns that Alvin Templeton was badly injured in a traffic accident when still a child, and never fully recovered from those injuries. Left with a bad limp, due to one leg being shorter than another, Alvin Templeton was a cripple who would never have been allowed to enlist in the Air Force.
The situation gets ever more complicated as Sandeen is confronted by the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations. As he avoids trouble by telling them everything he knows, it becomes likely, if not obvious, that the man posing as Alvin Templeton was probably a Soviet spy, trained in Russia and sent to the USA as a very young man.
If Sandeen's suspicions are correct, then the real Alvin Templeton was murdered, probably by his stand-in, or by his handler. And if the man pretending to be Templeton had a handler, who was he?
Sandeen's continued inquiry exposes the handler, and results in an unwanted and unexpected death. One of the veterans who served with the man who posed as Templeton is murdered to keep him quiet.
The pieces keep falling into place, and Sandeen gets an almost-complete pictures of the whole, sordid, thirty-five year-old affair. One thing that does not fall in place is Amanda Carter's presence. Sandeen digs just enough to know that she was sent at him, rather than their meeting being just a chance encounter. When they confront the issue, Sandeen gets the rest of the truth.
Dealing with the relationship becomes even more difficult when Amanda goes back to work in Wyoming and then shows up unexpectedly for a long weekend. He goes outside to meet her, and two men who have a long-term, deadly grudge against Sandeen attack them. Amanda is armed, and meets the attack with deadly force, killing both men.
Resolving the issue of the killings takes time, and Amanda lives with Sandeen until she is cleared of all wrong-doing. After everything settles down, Amanda decides to head back to Wyoming and live her own life. Sandeen lets go, but hopes that at some point, she'll change her mind.