Set in London, the film opens with American best-selling author Catherine Tramell in a speeding car with her companion, Kevin Franks, a famous English football star. Tramell takes the man's hand and begins masturbating herself with it, all the while increasing her vehicle's speed. Franks, who is semi-unconscious, does not seem to be aware of what is happening. At the point of orgasm, Tramell veers off the road and crashes into the West India Docks in Canary Wharf on the Thames River. She attempts to save her partner, but as she says while being questioned later by the police, "When it came down to it, I guess my life was more important to me than his." Tramell is interrogated by Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Roy Washburn, who notes that D-tubocurarine (DTC), which is a neuromuscular blocking agent used to relax muscles during general anaesthesia for medical surgery, was found in her car and in her companion's body, and the companion was not breathing at the time of the crash (according to the autopsy), and that a man named "Dicky Pep" said that he sold Tramell "15 milliliters of DTC last Thursday". Tramell counters by saying that this Dicky Pep must be lying because, "you've got him on some other charge and he's trying to deal his way out, if he even exists". Tramell begins therapy sessions with Dr. Michael Glass, who has conducted a court-ordered psychiatric examination and given testimony in her case. Dr. Glass strongly suspects that Tramell is a narcissist incapable of telling the difference between right and wrong. Tramell begins to play mind games with Glass, who becomes increasingly frustrated and intrigued by her. Meanwhile, the journalist boyfriend of Glass's ex-wife, who was in the process of writing a story critical of Glass, is found strangled to death. More murders begin to surface around Dr. Glass, including his own ex-wife, as his obsession with Tramell grows; when his career and life are threatened, he begins to suspect that Tramell is really committing the murders and attempting to frame him for them. Glass increasingly cannot himself distinguish between right and wrong, and the London police begin to suspect him. He confronts Tramell at her apartment, where they engage in passionate sex. Tramell gives Glass a copy of the draft of her next novel, titled The Analyst. After reading it, he realises that Tramell has novelised most of the recent events, with Glass and herself as characters. A character based on Glass's female colleague, Dr. Milena Gardosh, is depicted as the next murder victim in the novel.