A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from Princeton University's Firestone Library. The loot is priceless, but insured for $25 million. Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore on Camino Island, but makes his real money as a dealer in rare books, occasionally dabbling in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts. Mercer Mann, a young novelist with a severe case of writer's block, is offered a generous sum of money by a mysterious woman to get close enough to Bruce to learn his secrets. But eventually Mercer learns far too much.