A novella rather than a novel, this does not have the wide humor of Linklater's previous books, tightens down to the tattle-tale qualities of a five pound note and the intricacies of the Thugs of India. the cast of characters is small- Sir Simon Killalce who has beggared himself to pay for the trial of his son, Ronnie, who has been acquitted of the murder of the tart, Fanny Bruce: Dr. Lessing, a psychiatrist, whose completely bitchy wife, Claire, is wrecking his kindliness and helpfulness, and forcing a childhood hell on their little daughter. And across their lives passes Mr. Byculla, of strange and wonderful background, from Beirut and mixed parentage, secret service during the war, and now tormented by terrifying dreams. Sir Simon sends him to Dr. Lessing and the five pound note he pays for his treatment is used to pay Sir Simon, and Ronnie steals it from him. But in recognizing it as one he had given Fanny, he exchanges it with Claire, who cannot break off the affairs she has been having with him...And it is Mr. Byculla, practicing the Thugs' tenets who relieves Sir Simon, and later, Dr. Lessing, of their worldly cares. Skeletal in treatment, this still provides compact characterization and superior but not cheap suspense.