Harry Trellman is the narrator of this tale of a middle-aged owner of an import business in Chicago. He has what he calls "an insidious Fu Manchu look" and throughout his life has felt like an outsider. His mother abandoned him to an orphanage when he was young so she could travel from spa to spa. The only person Harry has ever loved is Amy Wustrin, whom he dated briefly in high school. She married his best friend Jay, who has just died. Sigmund Adletsky, a 92-year-old billionaire, takes on Harry as an advisor since he finds him to be "a first-class noticer." They meet regularly. It turns out that the old man wants to bring the detached Harry together with Amy who's now an interior decorator After 40 years of keeping his true feelings bottled up inside, Harry is ready to make his move. Nobel Prize-winner Saul Bellow covers turf he has visited before in this portrait of an aloof and judgmental man who holds himself apart from life. However, this time the character really seems willing and able to leap into the dark in the name of love.