HJ had just suffered a critical battering for his play 'Guy Domville' when he sat down to write this superb book in his diffuse, cloudy, 'later' manner. And theatrical tricks abound as protagonist Fleda Vetch, whose stage is set by others, is unable to act decisively to land prize catch Owen Gereth, a wealthy dimwit, despite the active encouragement of his mother, the redoubtable Mrs Gereth. Retelling the story here is pointless, and you have to say that in modern fiction Owen would have two-timed his fiancee Mona with Fleda, who would've also enjoyed the lesbian relationship she obviously wants with Mrs G, who herself is always pawing her young protogee in an unmistakeably erotic way. Everyone would have been at it as per Fifty Shades of Grey but as this is HJ it's more a case of fifty shades of meaning in each meandering sentence and characters getting their capacious bloomers in a twist when they should be getting them off. If you want an action thriller with chases and explosions, forget it. But if you want an entertaining and, for HJ, a perky little effort that'll keep you guessing as to how it ends (and you won't), here it is.