Basil Brazil is a detective with nothing to detect. When his father was alive, Basil supervised the security guards working for Brazil Detective Agency in Atlantic City. But now the city is almost as dead as his father, the guards are gone, and Basil hides in his houseboat and takes long swims in the bay. Then a friend asks him to locate his runaway wife. Basil begins trying to find her, and also to find himself. The search winds through the natural beauty of the South Jersey shore to the ugliness of the sex trade in a town where everything’s a gamble.