Christopher Easington has spent his life with his identify continually disguised, shrouded and obscured – in a shadowy anti-espionage world – and having had to take responsibility for a diplomatic catastrophe for which he was a convenient scapegoat, he has left the service, but is still secretly under their wing. Now working for an apparently private consultancy uncovering commercial fraud in various unsalubrious corners of the globe, he is assigned to a very unsettling and threatening case in the Middle East just as his real, yet still complicated, personal relationship is falling apart. With no proper understanding of himself, what he wants and who he actually is any more, he uncovers a really unsavoury crime – and has to deal with the authorities who have more than a vested interest in covering it up.
Against this backdrop, Easington tries to make sense of himself – and trusting no-one – not even himself, he realises – he begins to understand a little more and as he is hounded out of the country, he, paradoxically enough, begins to relax even as the threats against him multiply. From an Old Etonian villain to ex-pats escaping from their past, to duplicitous staff and venal local officials, from his old agency to his new employer, Easington encounters a world he is familiar with, while searching for a different, more amenable one.
He begins to create a relationship – or she creates it with him – with Janet Chelsfield, whom he has known in the distant past – and allows his suspicions to drop, as he begins to let himself feel like a real person.
This tense thriller looks at the way that the unexpected, the unprepared and the possibly unwelcome can conspire to alter the whole trajectory of life – and how someone can start to understand themselves possibly for the first time.