Wellington, 1935. James Tinling, a former Cabinet Minister, plans a political comeback, although a brash newcomer stands in his way. James has methods of dealing with upstarts, but is handicapped by secrets in his life. Eric Clifton, world-renowned moon scientist, has secrets too. He lives hot-bloodedly and is at war with patrician James.
Sam Holloway, literary man and moralist, records their year - its sexual intrigues and sudden violence and its overturning of political norms. What role does the young poet Owen Moody play, and brothel madam Lily Maxey? There's James's daughter Charlotte too, desperately painting in a garden shed; and Sam with his dozen friends at work on a composite detective novel.
Election day. Labour wins, crushing James's party. His secrets are shockingly revealed.
Maurice Gee's new novel is as good as anything he has ever written. Constantly surprising the reader, it combines good old-fashioned drama with a master writer's exquisite story-telling.