It's April 2028. Youth gangs roam the streets of independent Edinburgh, forcing the ruling Council of City Guardians to seek advice. Experts from the utopian university-state of New Oxford recommend a maximum security prison alongside the central tourist zone, but at the prison opening ceremony an Edinburgh guardian is shot. Quint gathers evidence linking New Oxford to the assassination. Sent there to close the case, he finds a ruthless administration beneath the glossy hi-tech veneer, and a conspiracy which leads from New Oxford's mysterious heart to his home city.