A boy creeps down from a high-rise block in the half-light of dawn to see the neat prints left by a fox on the frosty grass.
He is TC, eight years old and skipping school to spend his time exploring the city's waste ground and long-forgotten wild corners.
At school and at home he is barely missed. Sophia, seventy-eight and a half and still wearing her dear dead husband's shoes, looks out through her kitchen window at the little city park outside her flat, its grassy acres grimy and litter-blown, but to her eyes beautiful.
She is writing her weekly letter to her granddaughter Daisy, whose privileged upbringing means she exists in a different world to that of TC, even though they live less than a mile apart.
Jozef spends his days clearing houses and works night shifts at the local takeaway, but he is unable to forget the farm he left behind in Poland, the woods and fields he grew up with still a part of him, although he is a thousand miles away.
When he meets TC in the little park one night he finds a kindred spirit, despite the forty years between them: both lonely, both looking for something, both lost. A lyrical debut novel about innocence and experience, class and consumerism, Clay captures the delicate balance of life in the city, between young and old, between nature and development, between recklessness and caution.