September, 1973. Liberal minded young American couple Charles and Beth Horman - he a writer and translator - live in Santiago, Chile, they who chose Chile because of the comfort they felt in a country matching their own values. Charlie's father back in New York, Ed Horman, a conservative devout Christian Scientist, sees his son, and thus by association Beth, as flaky, directionless and irresponsible. Charlie and Beth's American friend Terry Simon, in the country solely for a visit, and Charlie are caught in Viña del Mar the day the right wing military overthrows the elected left wing government in a coup. At the hotel where Charlie and Terry end up for the night, they encounter US military and government officials. Because of the coup, Charlie and Terry decide to take notes of what they see, including that of the "unofficial" American presence in Viña. The day after the start of the coup, Charlie is taking Terry to the airport so that she can get out of the country, when they, learning that the airport is closed, are advised by American freelance reporter Kate Newman to take refuge at a large, American friendly hotel with lots of public visibility because of word that the military is taking away anyone for any reason, many of those who will end up missing never to be seen again, largely nationals but sometimes foreigners. Charlie leaves Terry at a hotel so that he can go home to retrieve Beth. Beth, however, is caught stranded away from home after curfew, and when she is able to get home the following morning, she learns from a neighbor that the soldiers had been to their house, with eyewitnesses later telling Beth that they saw Charlie being taken away. Two weeks later, Ed makes his way to Santiago to help Beth locate Charlie, Ed who had contacted his local politicians for diplomatic assistance in the matter. In Santiago, Charlie's case is largely handled by US Consul Phil Putnam, and US Naval officer Captain Ray Tower. Ed and Beth are often at odds with each other despite their common goal of finding what happened to Charlie: Ed wants Putnam, Tower and any other US official to use whatever clout they may have to assist him, Beth and Charlie - US citizens - while Beth doesn't trust them, especially Tower, for good reason. In the process of the Hormans' investigation, Ed may get a clearer picture of his son, who he would admit he really did not know. As Ed and Beth increasingly seem to be getting the runaround by those who are purportedly trying to help them, they may, with the assistance of others, get closer and closer to the truth, which may turn the world of patriotic Ed on its head forever.