Not content to be at the top of his career and his industry, Daniel Fielding one day decides to escort a junior colleague - a bit of a young floozy at that - to a romantic beachside resort in England. Not just any resort, but the one he happens to visit on special occasions with his doting wife. He and his mistress have dirty backseat sex, and then she is brutally murdered while he enjoys hours of carefree slumber. Fortunately the killer - an appropriately angry-faced and long-haired parolee - is quickly apprehended before the story can enjoy any benefit of a whodunit element. This allows for a much less interesting tale to lumber agonizingly through the pages that follow.
The reader is left to focus - to hope, presumably - that Fielding will win back the tattered hearts of his dear wife, his teenaged daughter, and even the family of the murdered girl. Please! One expects literary fiction to focus more on character development than on plot, but this book fails miserably in attempting to redeem a man who seems overwhelmingly undeserving of redemption, despite his many tedious yet inadequate acts of remorse. Fielding is a good man, Wright wants us to believe. So why the affair? Fielding's problem is not, as the jacket copy suggests, anything at all like having a child stolen away in a brief moment of inattentiveness or losing all to a chance house fire. A weekend of illicit sex doesn't merely occur when one is not watching.