Captain John Sanford is the Master of the British steamship Da Feng of Hong Kong, plying her trade in the mid-1950s on the China coast. It is a difficult and dangerous time for British seafarers, with a recently victorious Communist regime consolidating its hold on the vast country.
Born in Shanghai with a deep interest in China, the young Sanford is a highly respected shipmaster. He and his ship have become something of an institution on the coast, where Sanford warily treads the ill-defined line between politics and commerce until one day, in a port in northern China, he is ordered by a sinister Colonel in the People’s Liberation Army to embark a passenger.
The person consigned to his care is ‘An Enemy of the People,’ and in the few days that follow, Captain Sanford’s carefully regulated world collapses round him as he finds his own life is threatened and he is subject to appalling consequences.
In an ironic twist, Sanford's fate is to be forced to confront a reality that turned on ill luck and an absence of imagination.
(Unintended Consequences is a sequel to this story)