At first glance, it's just another American city. Its buildings sit on land that is bought and sold freely. Its streets conduct people to work in the morning and home again at night, giving them no reason to linger. But there is a second city, an "Invisible Seattle," forever taking shape in the fissures and margins of the "visible" city of skyscrapers, donuts and boredom. Somewhere in this Invisible Seattle lies the answer to the riddle you have been sent to resolve.

Exactly one week ago, your predecessor (a meticulous, thoroughly reliable operative) checked into the very same hotel from which you survey the morning skyline of the city. He made certain inquiries. He kept a diary. He was seen on the waterfront, in the marketplace, at the stadium. On the evening of the fourth day, he disappeared without a trace. Your job is to find him—that much is clear—but how? All you have to go on are the objects found in his room. This room. These objects.

A photograph.

A diary.

A list with fourteen names.

A fragment of a map.

A book entitled, without irony, The Book of Lies.

Soon you will review the evidence again (surely it will all add up to something). Or you'll unwrap the second water glass sealed for your sanitary protection (the first you used last night as you came in) and rinse your mouth, still wary, perhaps, of the taste of water in this town. Or maybe you'll be holding your slacks up with your elbow as you search for your nailclippers, coaxing open the rickety nightstand drawer within which lies The Book of Lies or else pausing by the long list of warnings and instructions on the door (signed: the Management).

For now there is a city.


Invisible Seattle, by Seattle