Rob and Jamie are great friends from childhood. They have grown up together and become top climbers, but have since become estranged. Rob is nevertheless amazed and grief-stricken when he hears of Jamie's death after a fall on a relatively easy Welsh rockface.
The past, though, hides the secret clues behind the tragedy. Layer by layer Simon Mawer peels back what happened, going not only into the friends' childhoods but that of their parents - who were also intimate. And there is no escaping that past - vividly imagined scenes in the London of the Blitz reveal how through two generations Rob and Jamie and their respective parents have been addicted - to desire and the heady dangers of climbing.
Brilliantly structured as we move from past to present and back again, this novel will make Simon Mawer's literary reputation.
Simon Mawer was born in 1948 in England, and spent his childhood there, in Cyprus and in Malta. He now lives with his wife and two children in Italy, and teaches at the English School in Rome.