Vanessa March is married to Lewis, who works for the Sales Department of Pan-European Chemicals.
Having tea with her mother's schoolfriend Carmel Lacy at Harrods, she learns that Lewis, whom she believes to be in Stockholm on business, appears in a newsreel story about a circus fire in Austria. Carmel, assuming Vanessa will be joining Lewis in Austria, asks her to accompany her seventeen-year-old son Timothy, who wants to visit his divorced father in Vienna.
Seeing the newsreel for herself, Vanessa sees Lewis in Austria — with his arm around a blonde girl. When she receives a message from Lewis postmarked Stockholm, Vanessa immediately agrees to travel to Austria, unaware that by doing so she is endangering her husband and herself.
The story is set against a backdrop of circus life, stolen goods, international smuggling, and an old mystery involving the disappearance of a famed Lipizzaner stallion and his groom.