The first of a series of three novels set in the Pacific North-West. In Seattle at the turn of the millennium, two hopeful new immigrants are drawn to Seattle by their own different versions of the American Dream.
For Tom Janeway - a Hungarian-born Englishman - it is the chance for the family he thought he'd never have. For an illegal alien - Chick, as he comes to call himself not long after escaping a cargo container - it is a land of opportunity that is his for the taking.
Moving from the sheetrock cubicles of an Internet start-up to fund-raising dinners in lakeside mansions, from brand-new condos in Belltown to the tents of the homeless, from businessmen's clubs to police stations and the creaking timber houses of Queen Anne Hill - Jonathan Raban recreates the intricate honeycomb of a boom-town in winter, of a nation on the verge.