Winner of the inaugural Booker Prize in 1969. It is 1956 and Townrow is in Port Said - of these two facts he's reasonably certain.
He has been summoned by the widow of his deceased friend, Elie Khoury.
She is convinced that Elie was murdered, but nobody seems to agree with her.
What about Leah Strauss, the mistress? And the invading British paratroops? Only an Englishman, surely, would take for granted that the British have behaved themselves.
In this disorientating world Townrow must assess the rules by which he has been living his life - to wonder whether he, too, may have something to answer for . . .