In 1914, as rumors of war float across Europe, Edna Ferber travels to Budapest with Winifred Moss, a famous London suffragette, to visit the homeland of her dead father and to see the sights. Author Edna is fascinated by ancient Emperor Franz Joseph and by the faltering Austro-Hungarian Empire, its pomp and circumstance so removed from the daily life of the people she meets. Sitting daily in the Cafe Europa at her hotel, she listens to unfettered Hearst reporter Harold Gibbon as he predicts the coming war and the end of feudalistic life in Europe while patrons chatter. Then a shocking murder in a midnight garden changes everything. Headstrong Cassandra Blaine is supposed to marry into the Austrian nobility in one of those arranged matches like Consuela Vanderbilt's still popular with wealthy American parents eager for titles and impoverished European nobility who have them to offer. But Cassandra is murdered, and her former lover, the dashing Hungarian Endre Molnar, is the prime suspect. Taken with the young man and convinced of his innocence, Edna begins investigating with the help of Winifred and two avant-garde Hungarian artists. Meanwhile possible war with Serbia is the topic of the day as Archduke Franz Ferdinand prepares to head to Sarajevo. While the world braces for disaster, Edna uncovers the truth—and it scares her.