For 14 year-old Daniel growing up in a poverty-stricken district of post-war Barcelona, a city where memories of Spanish agonising Civil War were still fresh, life was grey and rarely easy. His father had not returned from war and he lived with his mother, filling in time between school and starting work as a jeweller's apprentice by looking after an elderly, eccentric, retired sea captain.
All that enlivened the daily grind of economic hardship and dull routine were the occasional cross-border raids over the Pyrenees made by Republican sympathisers determined to destabilise Franco's government, and visits to the cinema. But there were also the magical stories told by the many colourful characters in this novel that are interwoven with the main narrative. Chief among them is that of Kim and his thrilling adventures in a mythical Shangai populated by gun-runners, ex-Nazis, beautiful women and sinister night club owners.
Dreams and reality fuse in this enchanting tale of human spirit and imagination triumphing over misery told by a master craftsman.