What begins as a febrile tale of thwarted sexual awakening blossoms into a most unusual psychological mystery--in British author Cooper's first US publication in 25 years. Harley Street psychotherapist Julian Crosfield, intrigued by Ronald Messiter's 1953 story of his futile search for Susan Rackham- -had he only watched her from a distance as a Medical Corps private in 1942, as he insists, or had their relationship been much more intimate, as his dreams suggest?--turns detective, retracing Messiter's trail to Thorpe-next-the-Sea. That's where Susan married Italian internee Robert Revere and now has died with him in a wild storm 18 months earlier, and where mysterious artist John Trevenen Passmore took up residence in a castle-like folly called Hampton's Whorehouse that Messiter claims he lived in. Is Messiter Passmore? Is he imagining that he's Passmore (as he may be imagining his intimacy with Susan Rackham)? And what's the connection between Passmore's paintings of sexual bondage and Messiter's cryptic diary, with its references to untraceable poisons and a fateful Accounting Day? The solution is inevitably anticlimactic, but until those final scenes, the narrative of Crosfield's discoveries, each of them giving the screw another turn, is mesmerizing.