Forty years from now America is struggling for survival following a series of terrorist attacks on its nuclear power stations. A massive exodus of refugees has left much of the country empty and turned New York into a third world city, swamped by shanty towns. As the economy downshifts and the infrastructure crumbles in the face of massive hikes in oil prices people are desperate for escape. Hal Hennessey and his partner Barney Kruger are doing fairly well out of the misfortune of others - retired from the NYPD they run a missing persons agency tracking down the debris from families that have broken apart under the pressures of a society that is disintegrating. When they are approached by one of the leading figures in the new radical-lesbian chic underground, desperate to find her missing girlfriend Hal is forced to confront his own past and the whereabouts of a sister he hasn't seen in more than fifteen years. And behind it all, the big software companies are rushing to perfect a new generation of virtual reality (VIRTUA) environments to give people the heavens they have lost. Anyone asking awkward questions around them better have good life insurance. Especially when the VIREX underground campaign against VR is hotting up. Eric Brown is unique amongst the new generation of British SF writers in the sensitivity and depth of his characterisation. His novels are infused with a strong empathy for ordinary people and display a willingness to examine family, happiness and mortality, using the rules of SF to ask fundamental questions about our lives and beliefs.