Whitehall civil servant Magnus Sparling is called home to Dublin because Edwin, his father, has been accused of attempting to poison his wife. Magnus does a thorough job interrogating his father. He is discreet, patient and pragmatic, but Edwin resolutely refuses to confess. Why is Magnus convinced of Edwin’s guilt, his aunt Charlotte asks.
Magnus tells Charlotte a story that has long been suppressed in the family: an account of a few extraordinary and precious days in the past when he accompanied his father on a clandestine journey beyond the Mojave Desert to meet Edwin’s blood-mother. The more Magnus probes for the truth about the attempted poisoning, the greater is his need to relinquish old fears. What he fails to anticipate is that Charlotte, a secret fantasist, has important news to add. A compelling tale of family secrets, and love lost and regained, by a writer at the height of his powers.