Women have been MI.6. agent Andy Osnard's weakness. As punishment for being caught sleeping with the wrong woman on his last posting in Spain, Andy is relegated to the global backwater of Panama as his next field assignment. Although nothing is happening there on the surface, Panama is still seen as having global importance due to the canal, with something always possible to rock the boat as seen by the recent history of the corrupt regime of Manuel Noriega. The advice of his superior is to co-opt one of the only few hundred British nationals living there to act as an informant for pay. Who Andy chooses is Harry Pendel, a men's suits tailor with Savile Row credentials through his now deceased business partner Arthur Braithwaite. This choice is because of Harry's client list, he the tailor to the elite and powerful, including the Panamanian president, who may treat him like the proverbial "bartender" or "hairdresser" confidante, and because his American wife, Louisa, works in a senior managerial position within the canal authority. But what may have swayed Andy's choice the most is that he knows the truth about Harry: that he not only does not have Savile Row credentials, but is an ex-con, Arthur Braithwaite was his Uncle Benny, also a criminal, and that despite his tailor shop doing good business, he is deep in debt from a farming venture gone wrong, none of this about which Louisa knows. As such, Harry has no choice but to cooperate, the payment from Andy which at least gets him out of his farm debt. As a side, Harry also has some connections to people who actively worked in the opposition against Noriega: Mickie Abraxas, who has turned to the bottle to cope, and Harry's store manager Marta, the right side of her face which shows the physical scars of that war, the scars at the hands of Noriega's men. With Andy placing more and more pressure on Harry to provide intel of some importance, Andy eventually learns through Harry that the Panamanian government is planning on selling the canal to the Chinese. This intel is exactly what Andy was looking for to set in motion a plan to reach his ultimate goal with this Panamanian posting.