Victor has left his new mistress, Marta, dead on her bed. He has put some food out for Marta's little boy, who had taken so long getting to sleep, and had slipped the tape with its compromising messages from her answering machine into his pocket before creeping off. An unexpected end to what was supposed to be an evening of passion - but the girl had suddenly taken ill and died in his arms. Marta's elderly father is afflicted that his daughter died alone, but the rest of the family are all too aware that she was not alone when she died, and Dean, the widowed husband, is determined to find out who was sharing her bed that night. All might have remained undiscovered, but Victor cannot endure living with shadows and, as it turns out, there is another who must also bring secrets into the open.
Javier Marias was born in Madrid in 1951 and published his first novel at the age of nineteen. In addition to seven other novels (which have won him the Herralde de Novela and the Ciudad de Barcelona prizes, and the Spanish Critics' Award, and some of which have been translated into several languages) he has written a volume of short stories and a collection of essays. He is also a highly practised translator into Spanish of English authors, including Conrad, Stevenson, Hardy, and Laurence Sterne. He has held academic posts in Spain, the United States (where he was visiting professor at Wellesley College) and in Britain, as Lecturer in Spanish Literature at Oxford University.