This book is about choices. It is about how we explore ambition and the drive to succeed and the rationalisations we use in our pursuit of that success.
The book is full of complex and well observed characters and this is as you would expect for Paul Torday.
We have a civil servant whose life displays elements of entitlement and whose job is one which we all suspect exists: a quango position which has no vision or purpose save to give a “title” to the one who holds it. At first he appears to care not that his well paid job is a sham. Over the course of the events that follow he is driven to look closely at some of the reasons he has for his understanding of the world around him. He becomes a “caring” person. It is transformational.
We have his secretary, a girl who is capable of so much more and who finally sees what it is she needs to do to stop her life from falling into the kind of self-perpetuating rut which may befall someone from a less well off background.
We have a dreaming journalist who is not managing his expectations well. He is doomed to failure but is blissfully unaware of this.
They are brought together to look into a series of missing children. This leads us into the world of a child serial killer. Even there we are forced to look at the way his life has ended up in the place it has.
Overall we are led to look at a position of belief and ultimately it is what we believe about the children which gets to the heart of this book.
The book crosses the boundary between secular and religious belief and the lines are not clear.