A luminous debut novel of modern alienation, of the sinister beauty of the human body and of the enduring splendour of the natural world. During a sweltering South American summer, a family convenes for dinner at a restaurant. Midway through the meal, Carlos disappears. An experienced, semi-retired inspector takes the case, but what should be a routine investigation becomes something strange, intangible, even sinister. The corporation for which Carlos worked seems to serve no purpose; the staff talk of their missing colleague's alarming, shifting physical symptoms; a forensic scientist uncovers evidence of curious abnormalities in the thriving ecosystem of cells and bacteria that made up Carlos's body. As the inspector relives and retraces the missing man's footsteps, the trail leads him deep into the country's rainforest interior, where he encounters both horror and wonder.