In 1968 two boys are born to the same large family, both named for their grandfather Peter Hightower. One Peter grows up with his father in Africa, and ends up as a journalist in Granada, Spain. The other Peter, who goes by Petey, ends up as a wealthy drug-addled minor criminal, first in Cleveland and then in Kiev, Ukraine. In 1995, Petey runs afoul of his criminal associates in Kiev and disappears. The criminals track down the wrong cousin, and Peter in Granada finds himself on the run without any sense of why. He runs from one family member to the next, piecing together what his cousin was involved in as well as his family's long and complicated relationship with organized crime. Along the way we move backward in time, to the original Peter Henry Hightower's story, until it catches up with that of his children, revealing how Peter and Petey have been living in their grandfather's shadow all along, and how they might escape.
The novel takes a close look at capitalism and organized crime in the 20th century, and how increasingly, the former is starting to look a lot like the latter. It's about the legend of the self-made man, and what money (lots and lots of money) can do to people, the problem of never knowing when you have enough. It is a book with a ton of heart, about the ties that only family, and a highly dysfunctional one at that, can create.