'A chef, a portraitist and a barber are taken hostage in a coup to overthrow their boss, the president of a nameless country. They are held captive in a palatial retreat in the mountains high above the capital city. Meanwhile, the chef's daughter, the portraitist's pregnant wife and the barber's lover watch their men from the shadows – for in such precarious times, intimate relationships are as dangerous as political ones. As the old order falls, so does the veil that hides the truth about the secret passions of these men and women.
'Drawing her readers masterfully towards the novel's devastating climax, Ceridwen Dovey reveals how humanity's most atavistic impulses – vanity, vengeance and greed – seethe, relentlessly, just beneath the surface of everyday life. '