The book opens with Seth becoming entranced by Rebecca, an actress playing the role of Ophelia in Hamlet. He persuades her to join his Friday Folly group, where arts and literature are given free rein, along with copious amounts of alcohol.
The other members of the group are; Catherine, a shy pianist with no confidence who prefers to be regarded as the hired help than be thrust into the limelight. Michael; principled school teacher from the North, uncomfortable with the opulence of Seth’s lifestyle and decadence. Jose; a rent boy with a dream. Anna; likes dressing up and drinking. Charles; a friend of Seth’s from Cambridge. Jake; cockney wide-boy who can cook. All very different people, but all hold pivotal roles in the story.
The structure of the book is highly original, instead of chapters we have acts and scenes. Some parts of the book are set out as dialogue in a play with the characters even addressing the audience. Given the references to Hamlet and Oedipus it is very apt.
From the start we are aware that something awful has happened because the scenes are interspersed by police interviews with members of the group. These scenes give us the background to the characters and brilliant insights into their rivalries.
As the book unfolds, and a night of shocking revelation, the dynamics of the group crack and split, leaving all the characters reeling in one way or another.
This is a brilliant portrayal of friendships; the glue that holds them and the secrets that rip them apart. The characters are completely believable and fascinating. The author does brilliantly well to create, and hold, the air of tension and brooding foreboding throughout the book.