de Voy falls in love - or rather, obsession - with one of his client's wives, and resolves to keep her for himself. This can only be done, he decides, by murder. The novel hurtles along keenly to its resolution, giving us a portrait of a man of extremes as he battles his way through the inconsequential nothings of London society, threatening to make a final statement that will have real, destructive power - much more power than he could ever achieve through the subtle arrangement of books in a banker's palace.
Stourton has a gift for the vivid and the violent: there are many bold, striking scenes, as when a guest falls from a balcony at a party, or when one of the characters suffers a terrible accident. The reader marvels at de Voy's audacity and self-deceiving arrogance, and yet is pushed along by a plot that is hooked and shining - with some elegant literary criticism along the way. Stourton's smoothly shocking novel is a sharp comment on our heavily consumerist lives: de Voy, after all, is only a product of the system - just one that's taken things a little too far.