Ever-versatile Barnard (A City of Strangers, etc.) gives us a low-keyed story told by wryly self-deprecating widower and ex- cabinet minister Peter Proctor, now retired and writing memoirs that even he finds boring--until his memory of Timothy Wycliffe is revived. Timothy, son of a prominent politician, was a brilliant charmer, a promiscuous, not very closeted homosexual at a time when that could mean a jail sentence in England. He and Proctor were friends, not lovers, and worked together at the Foreign Office. Then, 30 years ago, at the height of the Suez crisis, Timothy was murdered--according to the police, by his Scottish pal Andrew Forbes, who took off for Spain and was never tried. Here, Proctor is haunted by a feeling that Forbes may have been innocent and sets out to find the truth. The search takes him to Forbes's sister, to Los Angeles, where his own son and grandson live, and finally to Wycliffe's aristocratic family and his still-living father. What he discovers is a shocker--and there's another yet to come. The reader may doubt the ability of Proctor and other characters to recall in detail 30-year-old conversations and events, but Proctor's story is quietly engrossing all the way to its jolting conclusion.