Buried deep within the consciousness of Sergeant Raymond Shaw is the mechanism of an assassin, a time bomb ticking toward explosion, controlled by the delicate skill of its Communist masters. Shaw returns from the Korean War to an idolizing and unsuspecting country. In a farcical, uproarious scene, he is greeted amid flashbulbs and frock coats by his power-hungry, domineering mother and her politician husband, who have decided to use Shaw's fame to further their own unscrupulous ambitions.
What follows is at once a spy story, a love story, and a sobering yet outrageously funny satire on demagoguery in American politics. Two tender love stories provide an undercurrent theme: the powers of light against the powers of dark. Shaw, the pawn, the brainwashed, is caught between the forces struggling for his soul. With humor, anger, and compassion, Richard Condon brings this mortal combat to a spectacular surprise ending, an ending that the New York Times says, "will knock your reading glasses off!"