Ever since he was caught out in a racing scam that wrecked his marriage and humbled his family, Philip Glaister has been licking his wounds in the south of France, minding his own business and occasionally providing the likes of wealthy, noble rotter Richard Heron and his wife, Philip's childhood friend Eledi Heron, with sportive young women. But the news that his brother Freddy--who took over the Swynsmere stables after Philip's disgrace--is lying in a coma after a savage asthma attack sends Philip back home to England, this time to take Swynsmere in hand and sort out a troubling pack of riddles. Why has Freddy's wife, Alison, a qualified nurse who knows the issues, been insisting on keeping him yoked to a hopeless life- support system? Who's been calling to threaten Philip if he doesn't pull Swynsmere's great white hope Plutonium from an upcoming race that could recoup the stable's fortunes? And what's the connection between the violence against man and beast at Swynsmere and the dark idylls Philip arranged for the corruptly sybaritic Herons? Philip is the most complex of Daniel's arrestingly checkered-past racing heroes (The Bold Thing, 1994, etc.). But like his convoluted, exhaustively detailed plot, he's carrying too much weight for the distance here.