After the North loses the War of Southern Secession, money buys power in the Magnocracy, and people can disappear in a blink. War veteran Donovan Schist's specialty is finding these missing persons. There isn't much money in it, but he sleeps a little better.
This time, Donovan is looking for a girl named Bridget Cleary. Her family's had no word from her for months. Donovan's certain he'll find her belly-up, but it seems her talent for analytical machines has made her a valuable asset to the powers that be—an asset that they're determined to keep hidden and out of reach. In over his head, Donovan enlists his friend Verhalen to help. The eccentric inventor may be unstable, but his steam-powered gadgets give Donovan the edge.
Donovan's no stranger to the rougher edges of society, but when the usual threats turn to attacks on his life, it quickly becomes clear that someone very important does not want him to find Bridget Cleary...