Science-fiction detective yarn set in a medium-future Boston literally crawling with weird aliens: Smith's hardcover debut. Twenty-first-century Boston has been the site of momentous events: alien contact (involving dozens of species) and the establishment of an interstellar portal, the US government's challenge of Boston's subsequent monopoly of interstellar trade, a dreadful siege followed by independence from the US in all but name. Physically, the city has become a gigantic enclosed cube, outside of which most residents never venture. Now, Diana, the adopted daughter of City Operator Iris Sherwood, has gone missing; Sherwood calls in private detective Beverley O'Meara and her partner, Akktri, a furry alien Phner. Despite her misgivings (Beverley blames Sherwood for the death of her father during the Siege), Beverley takes the job--and immediately earns the enmity of persons high up in the Boston power structure; she learns that what seemed to be a case of kidnap and blackmail actually hinges on a mother/daughter love/hate relationship. In resolving the case, Beverley gains new insights into her Phner partner and his alien motivations. Hard-working, inventive, and colorful, but also uncontrolled- -with far too many different aliens, improbable sleuthing, and a general air of futuristic soap opera.