Three MI6 agents, including one "on loan" to the American government, are killed under mysterious circumstances within 24 hours of each other in the United Nations, New Orleans and a Caribbean nation, San Monique, while monitoring the operations of the island's dictator Dr. Kananga. James Bond, agent 007, is sent to New York City to investigate the first murder. Kananga is also in New York, visiting the United Nations and representing San Monique. Just after Bond arrives, his driver is shot dead by Whisper, one of Kananga's men, while taking Bond to meet Felix Leiter of the CIA. Bond is nearly killed in the ensuing car crash.
Glastron speedboats in the Louisiana boat chase. The boat chase scene was filmed in the Bayou Des Allemands.
A trace on the killer's licence plate eventually leads Bond to Mr. Big, a ruthless gangster who runs a chain of Fillet of Soul restaurants throughout the United States. It is here that Bond first meets Solitaire, a beautiful tarot expert who has the power of the Obeah and can see both the future and remote events in the present. Mr. Big, who is actually Kananga in disguise, demands that his henchmen kill Bond, but Bond overpowers them and escapes unscathed. Bond flies to San Monique, where he meets Rosie Carver, a CIA double agent. They meet up with a friend of Bond's, Quarrel Jr., who takes them by boat near Solitaire's home. Bond suspects Rosie of working for Kananga. She is shot dead, remotely, by Kananga, to stop her confessing the truth to Bond. Inside Solitaire's house, Bond uses a stacked tarot deck of cards, that show only "The Lovers", to trick her into thinking that seduction is in her future, and then seduces her. Solitaire loses her ability to foretell the future when she loses her virginity to Bond, and decides to cooperate with Bond as she has feelings for him and has grown tired of being controlled by Kananga.
Bond and Solitaire escape by boat and fly to New Orleans. There, Bond is captured by Kananga. It transpires that Kananga is producing two tons of heroin and is protecting the poppy fields by exploiting San Monique locals' fear of voodoo priest Baron Samedi, and the occult. Through his alter ego, Mr. Big, Kananga plans to distribute the heroin free of charge at his Fillet of Soul restaurants, which will increase the number of addicts. Kananga also believes that other drug dealers, namely the Mafia, cannot compete with his giveaway, to which Kananga can later charge high prices for the heroin, after he has simultaneously cultivated huge drug dependencies and bankrupted his competitors.