Talitha Stevenson's second novel occupies a peculiar territory, somewhere between Joanna Trollope’s books and Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love. It tells two parallel stories of father and son. Alistair Langford is a barrister in his early sixties, recovering from an unpleasant accident. Leaving a friend's house after dinner, he was set upon by two men who broke his knee with a baseball bat. We at first assume them to have been, say, vengeful associates of a criminal he helped send down or failed to exonerate. If only.
It emerges – and emerges, humiliatingly, in public – that the men are exacting sexual revenge: punishment for Alistair's one-night stand with a mobster's moll younger than his own daughter. It is the only act of infidelity Alistair has ever committed