Taddeus is the manager of the Grand Hotel Excelsior. The Summer season begins in May and since then many odd persons frequent the hotel. There is Ilde Vivaldi, in love with Taddeus and the boxer Pericle Coccia who has an important match and falls in love with Maria. There is the Mago di Segrate trying to win world fame by levitating thirty meters high. And there is the waiter Egisto whose daughter is in a Swiss College believing her father is a man of importance.
Dr. Daniel Challis and Ellie Grimbridge stumble onto a gruesome murder scheme when Ellie's novelty-salesman father, Harry, is killed while in possession of a strange mask made by the Silver Shamrock mask company.
Australian journalist Guy Hamilton travels to Indonesia to cover civil strife in 1965. There, on the eve of an attempted coup, he befriends a Chinese Australian photographer with a deep connection to and vast knowledge of the Indonesian people and also falls in love with a British national.