It's summer in Shanghai. The city's 18 million residents continue their hurtling progress toward modernisation. Three men carrying blueprints appear outside homicide detective Zhong Fong's apartment: his building is being redeveloped, and he may soon have nowhere to live.
Fong is jolted from these worries by a midnight phone call from the Shanghai Theatre Company. His old rival has been found dead, hanging from a rope at the centre of the stage, an apparent suicide.
But from the moment Fong sees the crime scene, his instincts tell him two things. First, this was no suicide. Second, the search for the killer will lead him to dark places and unwanted revelations.