Anthony Loxton, 3rd generation funeral parlour director of the Loxton Funeral Home, lives in Kalk Bay, a small seaside town, with his frail catankerous mother. Facing the prospect of a bleak dutiful future viewed against the background of a tormented joyless past, he finds some relief by living a parallel secretive existence as Tony the Fox, a mystery guitarist who plays at Kalk Bay music venues and has unsatisfactory brief liaisons with women who frequent the locales. His two worlds collide when a nubile one-night-stand (Lily) ends up on the funeral parlour bed the day after he meets her. He decides to ignore the unspoken code of conduct of the Loxton Funeral Parlour, and surprises himself even more by breaking his own rules.
As the boundaries separating the two worlds he has created for himself collapse, there’s plenty of collateral damage to handle. And some blessing. But until he can fall in love and exorcise his childhood demons, Anthony won’t escape the burden of the past…
Anthony pits himself against the forces of chaos and destruction assisted by his able good-luck paper puppet, a cheerful cowboy skeleton, who harks from Mexico, a fascinating remote land where ongoing contact with the dead is maintained through the annual festivities of the Day of the Dead.
Through the intervention of characters such as his golden-haired lover the seductive Alexandra (aka Akuaba) who has a passion for the art of death and displays her photographs of cemeteries at international exhibitions, and Aurora Morningstar who hides a secret, and Grethe Marais, the dark-skinned daughter of a local fisherman, who swims with seals, he discovers that the living are more tenacious than the dead and that fulfilment can arise in the most unusual circumstances.