A gripping novel about the effects of violence on the journalists and artists who have dedicated themselves to representing it
In the aftermath of September 11, reeling from the effects of reporting from New York City, two British journalists, a writer, Stephen Sharkey, and a photographer, Ben Frobisher, part ways. Stephen, facing the almost simultaneous discovery that his wife is having an affair, returns to England shattered; he divorces and quits his job. Ben returns to his vocation. He follows the war on terror to Afghanistan and is killed.
Stephen retreats to a cottage in the country to write a book about violence, and what he sees as the reporting journalist’s or photographer’s complicity in it; it is a book that will build in large part on Ben’s writing and photography. Ben’s widow, Kate, a sculptor, lives nearby, and as she and Stephen learn about each other their world speedily shrinks, in pleasing but also disturbing ways; Stephen’s maid, with whom he has begun an affair, was once lovers with Kate’s new studio assistant, an odd local man named Peter. As these connections become clear, Peter’s strange behavior around Stephen and Kate begins to take on threatening implications. The sinister events that take place in this small town, so far from the theaters of war Stephen has retreated from, will force him to act instinctively, violently, and to face his most painful revelations about himself.