Max Mather is 35, good looking, has a way with women, enjoys his leisure, can cook up a storm, and is repaying the attentions lavished on him by an Italian millionairess by serving as archivist on her family's collection of manuscripts - a not-quite-kept man. Upon her death, his patroness leaves Max his choice of a memento to be selected from the family holdings, whereupon he picks a wrapped package containing two Raphael originals - well beyond what she or the family would intend, if they knew about them!
To avoid a legal battle, he sets out to mask his ownership and have the works "discovered". Big-time collectors, dealers and auctioneers are drawn into Mather's game. In trying to out-deal the deal-makers, he becomes involved in the tangled web surrounding the brutal murder of a Manhattan artist, whose creativity extended from the canvas to the bedroom. The two stories intertwine in a fast-paced tale of intrigue and murder in the international art trade.