What begins as one more missing-heiress case swiftly develops into a postmodern homage to the Continental Op, as first-novelist Hall flits backs and forth between a fat, disillusioned p.i. named Wilson, of the Ajax Detective Agency in Chicago, on the trail of Elizabeth Dantry--who took off from Barcelona shortly after bolting director Ramon Munet's experimental theater/orgy--and repeated flashforwards stateside, after Wilson's caught up with Elizabeth and they're on the run to California a whisker ahead of two unsavory pursuers who call themselves the police. Was Elizabeth kidnapped by the Apocalypse, a new terrorist group, or is the kidnapping a private enterprise arranged by her lover Juanjo Silvestre--or is it a hoax? And will reading Gibbon's Decline and Fall really help beyond-it-all Wilson outwit the cops, his irritating boss, and his fat-cat client? Don't expect too many answers in this affectless tour de force.