New York, 1998. Mefa Dämgen from Munich, Germany, is having an existencial crisis. Married, in his early 30s, he's a successful writer and a global explorer. But something isn't right. Do things just happen to us or are our lives pre-ordained? He longs for more but doesn't quite know what. Until hw comes across the autobiography od world-famous dope dealer Howard Marks. Marks seems the polar opposite of himself. He's a Cambridge-educated crimonal who teaches Latino gangsters philosophy. He gives away money but has plenty more stashed in the tax heavens of the world. He obeys nobody's laws but his own. Unlike Dämgen, he seems the master of his universe. Fascinated, Dämgen plunges deeper into his legend. A few years before his arrest, Marks had lived in Campione, a tiny Italian enclave and tax heaven in Switzerland. Sicilian bagmen slip quietly in and out of its banks. Murderous Milanese gang bosses mix with bent accountants and off-duty croupiers. Somewhere here, Dämgen discovers, Marks buried a passport, in one of his dozens of false identities. The most important one. The one he named his autobiography after. Mr Nice.
Obsessed, Dämgen sets out to find it. His wife and son in tow, he drives south from Bavaria, through the Swiss mountains and down into Campione. Marks may be in jail but his legend is still alive in the banks and casinos of Campione. Is this where the money is, the money Marks told the DEA was all spent? Silent strangers purse him in the streets. So do the police. Eventually he finds the passport, buried in a school playground. Along with the key to a locker. The locker is in Zurich. at the Central Station . . .