It is 1958, and as Laika, the Sputnik dog, is launched into space, Golly Murray, the Cullymore barber's wife, finds herself oddly obsessing about the canine cosmonaut. Meanwhile, Fonsey "Teddy" O'Neill is returning, like the prodigal son, from overseas, with Brylcreem in his hair and a Cuban-heeled swagger to his step, having experienced his coming-of-age in Skegness, England. Father Augustus Hand is working on a bold new theatrical production for Easter, which he, for one, knows will put Cullymore on the map. And, as the Manchester United football team prepares to take off from Munich airport, James A. Reilly sits in his hovel by the lake outside town, with his pet fox and his father's gun, feeling the weight of an insidious and inscrutable presence pressing down upon him.
As these imperiled characters wrestle with their identities, mysteriously powerful narrator plucks, gently, at the strings of their fates, and watches the twitching response. This novel is a devil's-eye view of a lost era, a sojourn to the dark side of our past, one we may not have come back from. With echoes of Peyton Place and Fellini's Amarcord, and with a sinister narrator at its heart, this is at once a story of a small town-with its secrets, fears, friendships, and betrayals-and a sweeping, theatrical extravagance from one of the finest writers of his generation.