Albin Kranz, a twenty-eight-year-old sculptor and the son of an abusive father, is melancholic, alcoholic, and beset by painful memories of his childhood. Although he tries to make sense out of what has happened to him, his consciousness frequently becomes altered and he seems to be hallucinating. At her wits end, Livia, a photographer with whom he has lived for five years, suggests that they go to Istanbul to give their love one last chance. Their vacation gets off to an ominous start. One morning as he is standing on the roof terrace of his hotel, Albin witnesses the murder of Miller, an American gem dealer, at the hotel across the way. But like some desperately misunderstood character in a Hitchcock film, Albin can’t persuade anyone of what he saw, nor can he find any proof. The hotel manager denies having a guest named Miller, and the woman Albin saw with Miller at the time of the shooting is nowhere to be found. Obsessed with the crime, Albin tells his tale to a group of German students studying in Istanbul, but they, too, refuse to take him seriously. When Livia falls in love with one of the students, Albin hurls himself into discovering the truth about Miller’s death. His quest takes him into the slums of the city and deep into the mysterious, exotic Eastern culture few Western visitors ever penetrate.