Why would two Eastern European meatboys want to whack an innocent cab driver? That's the question that occurs to Gilrein as Raban and Blumfeld press the gun barrel into his mouth. Does it have something to do with the ritual death-by-flencing of Leo Tani? Or does the answer involve Gilrein's ex-lover, now working as a librarian for a bibliomaniac gangster? Or maybe the whole thing has something to do with the Inspector, inventor of the notorious Methodology? And how does Bobby Oster figure in the mix, with his crew of murder-for-hire rogue cops who call themselves The Magicians? To find the answers, Gilrein will drive the night streets of his hometown and face down more than one demon from his past. From the Vacuum, where child-artists are held captive in veal pens and forced to forge graphic novels, to the Houdini Lounge, where the second annual immigrant death-match is being marketed, Gilrein will wander the underworld, collecting stories and looking for absolution. In the end, he'll brush up against "Alicia's Tale" and learn new truths about the terrifying negotiations always taking place between the storyteller and the audience in the city of Quinsigamond.