Linus Owen is a young professor of conspiracy theory at a small college just outside San Francisco. He teaches graduate-level classes on JFK and gives seminars on magic-bullet theories and how the symbols on the dollar bill reveal the presence of a secret government that is leading the world to ruin. Linus' marriage is foundering and his wife, Claudia, an up-and-coming advertising executive, has gone to Chicago to visit her mother. But if Claudia is in Chicago, how is it that two FBI agents show up at Linus' office and inform him that Claudia has been killed in a plane crash on her way from New York to Brazil? And why did a man named Jeffrey Holden, the vice president of a major pharmaceutical company, buy her ticket and die beside her? Enlisting the aid of Edward and Roy -- his friends and fellow conspiracy theorists -- Linus heads across the country in search of answers. Along the way, the trio encounters a legion of disturbing and provocative characters and clues, including an irascible talk show host, a mind-controlling drug, and art emerging link between Claudia's ad agency and the U.S, Government. As their journey progresses, it becomes frighteningly clear they've left the realm of the academic and are tangled up in a dangerous, multilayered cover-up. Finally, deep in the heart of the American desert, stunned by an ominous revelation, Linus sees he has a new minion: to try to stay alive.