Growing up in a rural Hampshire village during the immediate post-war years, Peter and his companions lead a carefree existence roaming the countryside at will and finding adventures round every corner. Their great hero is an artist living hermit-like on the edge of the forest, universally known as Jimmy the Saint.
Jimmy holds them spellbound with tales of the village’s past: Chirper Edwards the ineffectual town-crier; No-Good Naughton and Freddy the Fop, the Squire’s disreputable forebears; Stoyan the Jutish warrior, and Morgana the pagan goddess. How smugglers once swaggered along tunnels beneath the Square, highwaymen shared their loot at Harry’s turnpike and mythical creatures – the grampus, screech-owl and cockatrice – awaited unsuspecting wayfarers in the neighbouring woodland.
But all is not as it seems, nor Jimmy the man they’d taken him to be, as Peter – now a university lecturer – discovers by chance some forty years later. He and his wife, Helen, set out to trace such rumours to their source, discover the truth behind the man’s sudden disappearance and the background he’d never discuss. The story that emerges is one of espionage and insanity, homicide and betrayal, with Jimmy implicated at every stage. As the evidence mounts and the pace of the investigation quickens Peter realizes that he, too, has played a part in his hero’s downfall. The clues have been there all along, revealed in Mappa Mundi, Jimmy’s final picture, the search for which uncovers a narrative darker and more sinister than anything the artist himself could have imagined.
Chorus Endings is a fast-moving, light-hearted novel with unexpected twists and darkly sinister undertones. As such it will appeal to fans of authors such as Robert Harris and Anne Tyler alike.