Investigator Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist --- and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police.
A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown insurgents with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists.
Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head.
Higgins s strong and darkly weird debut relates the difficult life of Investigator Vissarion Lom in an alternate 1940s Russia where the stone bodies of dead angels are harvested and repurposed. Lom, who bears a sliver of angel stone in his forehead that keeps him well behaved, is summoned from his provincial beat to the capital and ordered to find a revolutionary terrorist, one Josef Kantor. Kantor is also sought by his daughter, Maroussia Shaumian, who is one of the people perceiving the slips in reality between nature and the industrialized, and between the past and possible futures. The machinations of the humans and their organizations are reflections of a larger conflict between the alien fantastic entities known as the Archangel and the Pollandore. Sentient water, censored artists, mechanical constructs, old-fashioned detective work, and the secret police are all woven together in this rich and fascinating tapestry.