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Harry Palmer has quit the British Intelligence service to operate a private detective agency. British Intelligence head Colonel Ross tries to induce him to return to work, but Palmer refuses. Shortly thereafter Palmer gets an assignment to deliver some eggs to Finland. In Helsinki he meets Anya, who takes him to an old friend, ex-CIA agent Leo Newbegin, to collect his fee. Palmer is blackmailed by the British service into pretending to join Newbegin's organization, which is headed by a zealous anti-Communist, Texas billionaire General Midwinter. Palmer is trapped at the Latvian border and nearly killed by Anya, whereupon he learns that Midwinter is attempting to foment revolution in Soviet satellite countries before leading his own army in an attack on Russia--an attack planned by his billion-dollar computer. Newbegin, who has been doublecrossing Midwinter, escapes from Helsinki with Anya; she in turn doublecrosses Newbegin and hands him over to Palmer. Aware that the eggs are filled with a lethal virus, Anya flees with them to Russia, for which she has been working as a spy. Midwinter and his army advance toward Russia but sink through thin ice when Colonel Stok, head of the Russian secret service, dispatches several planes to drop a few well-placed bombs on the ice. Palmer, the only survivor, is rescued by Stok, an old friend of Palmer's; and Stok and Anya, satisfied at having thwarted Midwinter's plot, hand the eggs over to Palmer.