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Returning to New York in the autumn of 2002, after seven tranquil years passed as an expatriate guitarist living in Mexico, Patrick Pellegrino once again takes up the hectic pace of a hotshot musician with a hit Broadway musical, while being confronted with the enormous changes wrought in the city-as well as the country as a whole-by the gut-wrenching events of September 11, 2001. So much has changed since Patrick left New York, not the least of which is the topsy-turvy geo-political makeup of the post-Cold War world, but what becomes most apparent on his return to his homeland is the fact that The Patriot Act had morphed into so much more than a well-meaning piece of legislation behind color-coded terrorism alerts. To a civil libertarian with a mindset forged in the tumultuous 1960s, it seems to confuse the public more than protect the populace, and Patrick is about to get a crash course in constitutional rights when he makes a rhetorical-if unabashedly intemperate-comment about the state of politics in the new millennium on his cell phone. And being taken away in handcuffs by a grim-faced squad of FBI agents is only the beginning of his nightmare.

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