Former foreign correspondent Charles Mortimer is all washed up, living a hand-to-mouth existence in Manhattan, wondering how things could have gone so wrong for him. A chance discovery of a newspaper obituary takes him back to the beginning of his career, when he was a young, hopeful man reporting from the Sahara Desert in the company of beautiful French photographer Celeste Dumas. The two narrowly escape death by bullet, grenade, thirst and heatstroke and, ultimately, drowning. By the end of their adventure, Mortimer has begun his life as a successful, cynical journalist. Fifteen years roll by, and Mortimer finds himself again in Algeria, where he perpetrates the great error of his professional life and realizes, finally, what it was he lost so long ago in the desert wastes.
Henry Shukman's first book of fiction, Darien Dogs, was published in 2004 to great acclaim. Having won the Arvon International Poetry Competition in 2000, his first collection of poetry, In Doctor No's Garden, won the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Prize and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection