In 1972, Mason Skiles is a U.S. diplomat in Lebanon living in Beirut with his Lebanese wife, Nadia. They have recently begun caring for Karim, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who claims he is without a family. While hosting a party, Skiles is confronted by his friend, CIA officer Cal Riley, who wishes to question Karim, whose brother has been linked to the 1972 Munich massacre. The party is attacked by Karim's brother, Rami, who abducts Karim; in the ensuing gunfight, Nadia is killed. Ten years later, Skiles has become an alcoholic and is working as a self-employed labor arbitrator in New England. While arbitrating a labor issue between particularly intransigent parties and struggling to keep his small firm afloat, he is approached by Sully, an old client, on behalf of the U.S. government..