Mark Chamberlain is a man who has everything: a job he loves; the criminal record to prove it; a cop on his trail and a houseful of stolen goods. All he's missing is Caroline May, and she's been gone for more than twenty years. Nobody knows what happened to Caroline. One afternoon her parents came home and she just wasn't there. She had been seen alone, with a stranger, on the ferry, on a plane. She was never seen again.
Mark knows all the stories about Caroline. Stealing memories is how he makes a living. Each time he breaks into a house he sees Caroline in his head. But he knows she isn't there. Until one night when he walks into a room and discovers a collection of photographs, the blonde girl he remembers, looking back at him - smiling. And he realises suddenly, that the secret of Caroline is still alive. Mark may have been abandoned, but he is no longer alone.
It's the middle of February and all over Auckland the lights are going out.
Samuel Usher is a data-retrieval specialist: a broken man working on broken machines. Sam's drinking too much, taking too many drugs - trying to get by. Until he meets Candy and Jules, two drifting mathematicians, each after a Holy Grail - the one perfect theory that will make their worlds complete. After five years together, neither is getting any closer to their goal.
As for Sam - he just wants Candy. And for a while, it looks as if he may have her. Then Jules is found in a coma, and Candy disappears. All Sam's left with is a strange list of numbers and three words: ANYWAY FREEDOM GOODBYE.
Sam's pursuit of the truth will lead him into an underworld of chaos and turbulence, where numbers rule and love and friendship collide.
Chad Taylor was born in 1964. He is the author of six novels and two collections of short stories. His second novel, Heaven, was made into a Miramax feature film, for which he wrote the screenplay. Shirker, his first book to be published outside New Zealand, has been translated into five languages. He lives and works in New Zealand, where he was awarded the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship for literature in 2001.