Phillips is a retired CIA ""contract man"" (assassin), formerly Director of the Western Hemisphere Division--and his hero here is a retired CIA chief, William (Mack) McLendon, famed as ""the best street man in the business."" Someone has been killing CIA chiefs at their stations around the world and also assassinating oil bigwigs. The Company and a representative from the oil companies approach Mack with a contract on Carlos, the world's most famed terrorist--this the legendary, real-life Carlos--who has claimed credit for knocking off the oil and CIA folks. Mack, soured on the CIA, says no, but the lure of $1,000 a day, the undercover fellowship, and the thrill of the chase persuade him to accept. He mounts, rather laboriously, a group of fairly over-the-hill retired agents and snatches CIA agent Janet Wilson as an aide (her CIA lover is serving 25 years in Cuba), then sends his agents forth on a Carlos-finding mission. But instantly Carlos is calling him on his private line--and laughing in Mack's face! Mack and his men scour Europe and South America, looking for the trail to Carlos. But terrorist Carlos, son of a Venezuelan millionaire, seems to have second sight and is knocking off Mack's men. At last Mack hears that Carlos is going to kidnap the U.S. Secretary of State and sets a trap for him but is himself captured by Carlos and hidden in a cave under the CIA's training farm for agents. Ponderous, but alive and skulking.