Lucas Salik is a heart surgeon, renowned for performing bold experiments on other people's hearts. Ostensibly chilly, he harbours a secret obsession for his reckless and charismatic friend Hal. When Hal announces his intention to find a wife, Lucas is forced to carry out his most complex operation yet: to engineer the marriage, setting it on a perilous path to failure. But just as things appear to be working out, Lucas starts receiving ominous letters that threaten to jeopardize his intentions, his career - and his life.
As noted London heart surgeon Lucas Salik begins his account of recent events in his life, this first novel appears to be merely a tale of sexual obsession, albeit a brilliantly told one. Lucas is blindly in love with the much younger Hal, who embodies the ideal Britonblond, landed, upper-classthat Polish-born Lucas can never be. When Hal suddenly decides to marry, Lucas sets him up with Cora, in hopes that Hal will soon tire of her and return to him. Just as Lucas's plan seems to be working smoothly, the story bursts open and the narrative voice switches to Cora, who has her own reasons for marrying Hal. Cora is sharp-eyed when it comes to showing Hal as a shallow cad with bleached hair, but she is myopic when it comes to herself, mistakenly believing that her motivations are hidden to others. When Anne, Lucas's best friend, narrates her version of events, the tale becomes full-blown, exploding with intrigue, suspicion, violenceand love. Hal's short contribution at the finale brings yet more surprises. Readers are vividly given to understand how the "truth'' of a situation is dependent on the participants' perceptions and desires. McWilliam creates indelible characters, from the pathetically elegant surgeon to his savage, feline nemesis (ironically named Angelica).