Quite a change of pace for the urbane creator of Roman detective Aurelio Zen (Blood Rain, 2000, etc.): a teasing, lacerating fable about a new widower maddened by grief.
Anthony always felt he'd met Lucy too late, and was jealous of the ex-husband who'd given her two children as if in passing before splitting up with her, when it would turn out to be Anthony who'd yearn to have shared her family. Now, too soon as well, an airline crash has meant that the British journalist has lost his beautiful, accomplished American wife, whose intelligence and humor made him think of her as "quick." Bent on finding out more about the past she never wanted to discuss, he treks out to the Nevada desert with a newly purchased revolver in his pocket, determined to confront Darryl Bob Allen, who's decorated the godforsaken gas station he runs with a bizarre series of neon figures that are only the first sign of the weirdness ahead. But his meeting with Darryl—who calls him "Tone"; presses liquor on him; expresses a sovereign indifference to Claire and Frank, the children Anthony would've killed to sire; regales him with tales of his connubial relations with Lucy; and offers to let his visitor sample the audiotapes he's made of Lucy disporting herself with a variety of lovers—doesn't go exactly as Anthony expects, and he emerges from the desert still haunted by his late wife. All too quickly, he'll be haunted in other ways too. Not even a frightened retreat to the home he and Lucy had shared in France will exorcise his ghosts; long before the final tableau of this slender tale, he'll have reason to hate the past as much as Lucy ever claimed she did.
Yet Dibdin's title turns out to be accurate after all: a tribute to the power of grace and gratitude to transform even the most blasted lives.