Charlie Fairburn, successful screenwriter, ex-husband and absent father, has been given six months to live. He resolves to stake half his fortune on a couple of turns of the roulette wheel and, to his agent's disgust, to write a novel - about death. In the casino he meets his muse. Charlie grows as addicted to writing fiction as she is to gambling.
Charlie's novel is set on a train and involves a group of characters locked in a debate about the nature of consciousness. As the train gets stuck at Didcot Junction and Charlie gets more passionately entangled with the dangerous young woman who is his nemesis, Edward St Aubyn's dazzling novel comes to its startling climax.