When last seen in Petrakis's earlier novel, "A Dream of Kings," Leonidas Matsoukas was the vigorous proponent of wildly creative get-rich-quick schemes; a passionately loving husband, father, and sometime philanderer; an incorrigible gambler; a mighty fighter; and purveyor of advice and counseling on matters of life and of the soul. Now, eight years later, he returns from Greece to the Greek- American Chicago neighborhood where he had lived with his family. But all has changed: his young son has died in Greece; Matsoukas himself has just been released from a long period of imprisonment and torture; his daughters are grown and his wife Caliope has remarried to a prominent businessman.
Battered in body but not in spirit, Matsoukas slowly begins to recover his place. He befriends and helps a young, lonely single mother, Debbie, and her infant son, Peter. Then he contacts Caliope, and finds an unexpected patron in her generous husband Sophocles. Soon Matsoukas is nearly himself again, but for two dilemmas: his love for Caliope, now another man's wife, and the presence of the man who tortured him in Greece — a man who found respectable anonymity in Chicago.