On the run from a mysterious van mislabeled "Chigi Scap Metal" that's been following her ever since she ran into her old friend Sammy -- Sammat Yusufu, legitimate heir to the troubled Ubangiban throne -- in New Haven, sketch artist Kadi Hopkirk shakes her pursuers long enough to hide out in a handy storage closet. Luckily, the closet is in the house of Emily Pollifax, secret agent extraordinaire (Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief, 1993, etc.). In no time at all, the two of them have run off to New York -- no, Massachusetts -- well, they'll ultimately end up at a Maine carnival, a kind of CIA vacation spa, where Mrs. Pollifax will be called on to solve a quite unrelated mystery that has arisen just hours before: Who stabbed the federal agent who was the last person to try hiding out there? While Mrs. Pollifax, in the highly unconvincing guise of a local reporter, interviews the carnies, her Washington mentor Carstairs wrestles with still another mystery: the whereabouts of kidnapped New York executive Henry Bidwell, who was bundled into a van marked "Chigi Scap Metal" just before Kadi's adventures began. Certainly a varied enough buffet, even if some of the offerings are past their prime.