An authority on rare books is drawn into a confrontation with the forces of darkness in this thriller directed by Roman Polanski. Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is a rare book broker who makes his living tracking down valuable items for rich bibliophiles. Corso is hired by Boris Balkan (Frank Langella), a millionaire New Yorker with a vast collection of occult literature and a keen interest in "The Nine Gates to the Kingdom of Shadows." Legend has it that the book was co-written by Satan in the 17th century, and only three copies are known to exist; the owner of one recently sold the book to Balkan a few days before killing himself. Balkan wants Corso to find the other two copies (one owned by a Mr. Fargas in Portugal and the other by a French collector named Kessler) and examine them to determine if they are forgeries. Corso is told to be thorough and spare no expense. He begins by visiting Liana Telfer (Lena Olin), the widow of the man who once owned Balkan's copy of the book, who has an unusually strong desire to get the book back, and confers with his friend Bernie (James Russo), who soon turns up dead, in a manner much like an illustration from the book. Corso learns that the book contains clues to a puzzle that will allow people to call up the devil, and certain people will stop at nothing to find the missing parts of the formula.