Gaudy saga of revenge and lust, spanning a century of British- Indian relations. Puzzle-boxlike in its complexity, British writer Barrett's story of three families scarred by the maniacal hand of vengeance begins in the India of 1857 when a native revolt leads to a massacre of British civilians and is in turn followed by the brutal retaliation of Colonel Reginald Mills, driven mad by the sight of his dismembered wife. In his blind rage, the Colonel kills Indrajit Rai, master jeweler to a maharajah, and ruins the rest of Rai's family. He also steals a small, jewel-encrusted bird, one of a pair. The escaped son of the dead jeweler vows revenge, taking the other jeweled bird, and so the plot begins to spin . . . and spin . . . until it ends up in London in the 1960s. There, we are introduced to the latest Mills heir, a good-looking gadabout with a married girlfriend (her husband is a brutal, class-climbing homosexual) and an eye to a royal appointment. To secure the coveted post, Philip Mills needs a wife, and he finds the perfect match in kind, sensible Jane Bennett. The young couple head to India to finish Philip's tour of diplomatic duty, though passionless Philip, with his chilly demeanor and unflagging racism, sets Jane's eye wandering in the direction of the dreamy Rami Rai, who is (you guessed it), a descendant of Indrajit. Forbidden love, a flight through the mountains, various attempts at revenge, and sundry murders all follow. There's even a stopover in a leper colony before we're hurtled back to London in the '80s, and into the life of Jane and Rami's love child, Indi. Indi then encounters more of the above plus a coded map that leads to the maharajah's missing jewels. Pulp fiction at its pinnacle: ridiculous, convoluted, artificial, possessed of a kind of faux steaminess, but, withal, undeniably energetic.