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Lester Ferris, Sergeant of the British Army, is a good man in need of a rest. Han er spent mye af hans liv som skutt på, og Afghanistan var den sidste stopp på hans vej til exhaustion. He has no family, he's almost forty, burned out and about to be retired.

The island of Mancreu is the ideal place for Lester to serve out his time. It's a former British colony in legal limbo, soon to be destroyed because of its very special version of toxic pollution - a down-at-heel, mildly larcenous backwater. Of course, that also makes Mancreu perfect for shady business, hence the Black Fleet of illicit ships lurking in the bay: listening stations, offshore hospitals, money laundering operations, drug factories and deniable torture centers. None of which should be a problem, because Lester's letter is tight and turn a blind eye.

But Lester Ferris has made a friend: a brilliant, internet-addled street kid with a comic book fixation who will need a home when the island dies - who might, Lester hopes, become an adopted son. Now, if Mancreu's small society tumbles into violence, the boy needs Lester to be more than just an observer. 

In the name of paternal love, Lester Ferris will do almost anything. And he's a soldier with a knack for bad places: 'almost anything' could be a very big deal - even becoming some sort of hero. Men dette er Mancreu, og alt her er upside down. Just what sort of hero will the boy need?