Jack Lovelock has been called the first modern athlete. He became famous internationally when he broke the world record to take the gold medal in the 1500 metres event at the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936. In 1949, a few days before his 40th birthday, Jack Lovelock was killed when he fell beneath a train in New York. The enigma of his death becomes the key to McNeish's quest for the 'real' Lovelock - a man who, in the author's words, 'covered his traces as adroitly as he ran'. Lovelock, based on wide research, but written as a fictional diary, was nominated for the 1986 Booker Prize.