Edinburgh, 2025: an almost crime-free oasis surrounded by anarchic city-states. But global warming has turned summer into the Big Heat, and water, like everything else, is strictly rationed. Citizens live only for the weekly lottery drawing. When a recent winner goes missing, however, subversive investigator Quintilian Dalrymple is called in to deal with a case of the summertime blues.
Then a body is discovered face down in the Water of Leith, and the only clue to the death is a bottle of contraband whisky. Quint thinks he sees traces of a conspiracy to destabilize the city, as the body count - like the temperature - keeps on rising.