"Nothing is still like the dead are still. The wind moves their hair, as it moved hers, and they don't respond at all."
It begins with a murder. Or, more precisely, the discovery of a murder. On the scene is Extreme Case Squad Inspector Tyador Borlú. The woman who lays at his feet turns out to be the product of much more than a typical murder, but rather one of a bizarre and deadly conspiracy that threatens two cities.
The two cities in question, and referenced in the title, are Beszel and Ul Qoma, located somewhere on the edge of Europe, seemingly perfect as post-Soviet Balkan states, yet never officially designa