The year is 1949.
In the bombed-out ruins of Cologne, Hanno Dasch is king.
Director of the most successful black market operation in post-war Germany, Dasch has kept his clients supplied with goods so extravagant and rare that they were almost impossible to find even at the height of Germany's conquests.
Nobody but Dasch, his enigmatic daughter and the war criminal he keeps as his bodyguard know how he does it.
None of this has escaped the attention of Allied Intelligence, who face not only the systemic corruption of a country where everything is in short supply, but the growing threat of Stalin's KGB.
Fearing that Dasch will soon expand his business to include dealings with Russia, and invite the further meddling of Russian agents in the west, the CIA sets in motion an undercover operation to infiltrate and, ultimately, destroy Dasch's empire.
A disgraced American Army officer, Nathan Carter, is recruited to approach Dasch and to ingratiate himself with promises of stolen army supplies.
As Carter moves further and further into the labyrinth of Dasch's world, it soon becomes clear that the black market ring has already been compromised, but by someone even more dangerous than the Russians.
Carter stumbles upon a counterfeiting ring, with whom Dasch has unwittingly gone into business, which seems to have been created with the sole purpose of destroying the Soviet economy, something it could easily do with the superlative quality of the forged bills it is producing. With Carter caught in the middle, and facing the danger that his cover might be blown at any moment, a race begins between the Russian and American spy agencies to uncover who is responsible, before the situation escalates to war.