It is the summer of 1940, and for Stevie Steiber, a young American journalist in Hong Kong, the war raging in Europe seems a world away. Tasked with keeping her New York readers informed about society gossip from the Orient - although longing to be taken seriously as a writer - she sashays through cocktail parties and dinner dances, as days at the Happy Valley race-course slip into lost, opium-clouded nights. Major Harry Field has been charged by Her Majesty's Government with investigating suspicious activity inside the colony. But with the British focused on the war back home and the Chinese concerned only with the communist threat from within, Harry suspects it may be the approaching Japanese army who represent the real threat. He is intrigued by the recent arrival on the island of Jisheng, a Chinese socialite and owner of a controversial political magazine, but it is Stevie, Jisheng's outspoken, beautiful star reporter who really fascinates him.