Lorimer Black - young, good-looking, but with a somewhat troubled expression - does not understand why his world is being torn apart, though he does know that for the most part it is made up of bluster and hypocrisy. His business, trying to keep insurance companies from paying out the money they've promised, is a con game run with the protection of the law.
One winter's morning, Lorimer goes to keep a perfectly routine business appointment and finds a hanged man. A bad start to the day, by any standards, and an ominous portent of things to come.
William Boyd was born in 1952 in Accra, Ghana and grew up there and in Nigeria. His first novel, A Good Man in Africa (1981), won the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Somerset Maugham Prize. His other novels include An Ice Cream War (1982, shortlisted for the 1982 Booker Prize and winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize), Stars and Bars (1984), The New Confessions (1987), Brazzaville Beach (1990, winner of the McVitie Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize), The Blue Afternoon (1993, winner of the 1993 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award), Armadillo (1998), Any Human Heart (2002, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet) and Restless (2006, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year Award). His latest novel is Sweet Caress (2015). Some seventeen of his screenplays have been filmed, including The Trench (1999), which he also directed, and he is also the author of four collections of short stories: On the Yankee Station (1981), The Destiny of Nathalie 'X' (1995), Fascination (2004) and The Dream Lover (2008). He is married and divides his time between London and South West France.