From the lips of a dying man at a dimly-lit Italian dock, Guy Van Stratten, the disreputable American fortune hunter, receives invaluable information about the powerful financial titan, Gregory Arkadin. In high hopes that something good might come out of it, Guy finally approaches the cryptic multi-million tycoon, intent on exploiting him; instead, the ambitious opportunist finds himself mysteriously hired by Mr Arkadin, to reconstruct the history of his murky past before 1927. However, as the methodical detective scours the globe to put together the dangerously knotty puzzle, people end up dead, gradually closing in on Van Stratten, who now begins to shed light on this murderously difficult assignment. Are those cases linked together? In the end, has the reclusive magnate something to hide?