An aimless travel writer with writer's block—his "dead hand"—Jerry Delfont is intrigued when he receives a letter from American philanthropist Mrs. Merrill Unger, with news of a scandal involving a dead boy and her son's Indian friend. Once in Calcutta he is swiftly captivated by the beautiful, mysterious Mrs. Unger—and revived by her tantric massages—but the circumstances surrounding the dead boy cause him increasingly to doubt the woman's motives and the exact nature of her philanthropy. Known for his own travel writing (The Great Railway Bazaar) as well as his novels, Paul Theroux powerfully evokes the atmosphere of modern India.
"Theroux brings his best gifts as a travel writer to one of his walk-on-the-dark-side fables of masked identity and psychosexual quest.... [His] writing is as feline and agile as ever, and his calibration of clue and revelation is nicely meted out.... This story will lure you in, from its whodunit setup to its swift, unexpectedly visionary close."—Seattle Times