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At ten, David Shaw, a silent and observant little boy already fluent in half a dozen languages, was being dragged through the capitals of Europe by a diplomat father and a beautiful scatterbrained mother. At twenty, in the midst of the troubled 1960s, David abruptly disappeared from his Ivy League college – to be reborn as Jan Van Zee, amiable Dutch drifter, making his way around Europe and working as an occasional courier for a syndicate of smugglers.

At thirty he is cruelly betrayed and left for dead by the syndicate, and now lives only for revenge against an apparently all-powerful and invulnerable foe. Reverting to his true identity, David returns to America to claim his vast inheritance, and sets out to execute a consummate vengeance against each of the syndicate’s three bosses