Colonel Aleksandr Talanov is married to a woman he wishes he could love. But he can't, and it's an ugly consequence of his former training with the KGB. Even so, no one should have to experience what Talanov experiences: the brutal murder of his wife in front of his eyes.
Wracked with guilt, Talanov spirals downward on a path of self-destruction. He should have been killed, not her. He was the one whose violent past would not leave them alone. Months tick by and Talanov hits rock bottom on the mean streets of modern-day Los Angeles, where he meets a hooker named Larisa, who drugs and robs him.
But Larisa made the big mistake of stealing Talanov's wallet. In it was his sole possession of value: his wedding photo. Talanov tracks Larisa down to get that photo because it reminds him of everything that should have been but never was, and never would be because an assassin's bullet had mistakenly killed his wife.
Or was it a mistake?
The answer lies in Greco's Game, a chess match played in 1619 that is famous for its queen sacrifice and checkmate in only eight moves. In an unusual alliance, Talanov and Larisa team up to begin unraveling the mystery of what Talanov's old KGB instructor regarded as the most brilliant example of how to trap and kill an opponent. The question is, who was the target?