Oscar, a carer with a literary bent, becomes involved by chance with Iris Bellwether, and, through her, with her brother, Eden, and their tight clique of Cambridge University students. As Oscar gets drawn ever more deeply into this bizarre and often disturbing society, we start to wonder if Eden is the genius he thinks he is or simply insane. We know from the prelude that there will be a tragedy, but even forewarned, the denouement is shocking.
Eden was leading a discussion from one side of a chaise longue, with Jane sitting blank-faced beside him. Marcus and Yin had an armchair each, and both were wearing tweed, as if they'd arrived from a clay-pigeon shoot. A blonde woman in a plain red dress was perching on the lip of the settee - Mrs Bellwether. She bore no obvious resemblance to her daughter, other than her shade of blonde and a general air of calmness and contemplation. She was wearing a silver necklace with a locket, which seemed slightly faded, perhaps antique. They were all holding their sherry glasses the same way, with one hand pinching at the neck of the crystal, the other cupped underneath the base. It reminded Oscar of the way his father used his free hand as an ashtray when he smoked indoors.