San Francisco, 1986 - a city where Dionysian liberation is beginning to pall beneath the first shadows of a strange new darkness. Bill Ticino's fruitless and numbing marriage finally breaks up. Plagued by insomnia and spiritually lost, Bill finds a lodger as the solution to his problems: a handsome, charismatic Portuguese man named Peter, whose pet bird is a hoopoe named Maria. Bill finds himself drawn into a world of kabbalistic storytelling, charms and ritual. Peter ignites Bill's repressed obsessions by telling him emotionally charged tales of hidden meaning.
One night they venture together into the Tenderloin district, a dead-end world of prostitutes and transvestites. Bill begins to see that his new tenant has plans that will force him down a perilous sexual and spiritual oath, with the power to both redeem and destroy.
Richard Zimler was born in Manhasset, New York. After gaining degrees in comparative religion from Duke University and in journalism from Stanford University, he worked as a journalist. In 1990, he moved to Porto, Portugal, where he has taught journalism for the last twelve years.
He has published four novels since 1996: Unholy Ghosts, The Angelic Darkness, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon -- named 1998 Book of the Year by three British critics and a bestseller in eleven countries -- and Hunting Midnight, also a bestseller.
Zimler has won many prizes for his writing, and has lectured on Portuguese-Jewish culture all over the world. When not writing, he enjoys gardening at his weekend house in the north of Portugal.