Exiled to darkest Crossmaheart after a spectacular drunk, Miller, a Belfast reporter who has his own weekly column but keeps his first name secret, falls in with waitress Marie Young, falls in love with her, falls into her bed. But chastely, since Marie's still traumatized from her childhood rape by three young bloods who've long since paid for the crime and been forgotten. Miller, not the most patient or disinterested sexual therapist in the world, finds his job horrendously complicated by the fate of Marie's last lover, Jamie Milburn, his predecessor on the Crossmaheart Chronicle. Jamie hasn't been seen lately, unless you count his head, glimpsed in a fox's mouth. This last discovery is all too much for Marie, who goes off her medication and takes a powder instead. Miller, with nothing better to do, tracks down her three assaulters and has brief, informal exchanges with each of them—exchanges that the police get very interested in when all three turn up dead. Dogged by his reputation as the Angel of Death, Miller keeps digging into the case, as if anything he could do would make a difference to Marie, until he finally digs too deep. Less manic—except for its luckless heroine—than Bateman's blackly comic debut, Divorcing Jack (1995). But Bateman and his hero both pay a high price for the few sweet, funny moments they wring out of this vale of tears.
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