Harry Pendel is a British expatriot living in Panama City and running his own successful bespoke tailoring business Pendel and Braithwaite. His wife and kids are unaware that almost every detail of his life is fabricated, including his former partner, Mr Braithwaite. In reality Harry Pendel is an ex-convict who learnt tailoring in prison. Andy Osnard is a young British M16 agent sent to Panama to recruit agents to gather intelligence and protect British trade interests through the canal. However Andy has his own agenda and after he discovers Harry's past sees the perfect opportunity to recruit a new agent and extort money from the British government. Concocting a fictitious network of revolutionaries, known as the silent opposition Harry through Andy manages to gain the intrigue of the British secret services and U.K and even U.S. governments. However Harry has used his own friends as the basis for his fantasies and as the plots are taken more seriously they become known to the Panamanian authorities and Harry struggles to cope with the guilt of setting them up. Harry's wife, Louisa becomes suspicious of the amount of time he spends with Andy and suspects that Harry is having an affair. She breaks into his office and discovers all his fantastic lies. Harry's friend Mickie kills himself rather than face the risk of going back to jail and Harry helps dispose of the body, making it look like he was executed. As Mickie as the supposed leader of the silent opposition the U.K. and U.S. governments use this as an excuse to topple the current Panamanian government. At the end of the book the U.S. military has begun another invasion of Panama, based largely on Harry's fabrications and Harry watches the destruction from the window of his house.