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When a bomb explodes on a baggage carousel at Heathrow Airport, killing his ex-wife, David Markham tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her seemingly pointless death. But with unresolved questions about himself, his job, and his loving but adulterous wife, he soon finds himself immersed in the deeper waters of middle-class revolution.
When a protest at a cat show turns ugly and he is beaten up by angry cat lovers, then arrested and tried, Markham enlists in the cause of the rebellious Chelseans – imagining he will uncover the persons and causes responsible for his ex-wife's murder. Slowly, he succumbs to the call of subversion and gradually finds himself a terrorist functionary. Along the way, we meet an assortment of wonderfully ballardian characters: Markham's wife, who continues to use her arm canes though her leg injuries from an accident with a tram have completely healed; a sociopathic college film studies lecturer-terrorist cell leader who takes Markham for a lover; a troubled priest and his Chinese girlfriend; a former MI5 bombmaker turned revolutionary and a kindly pediatrician cum terrorist mastermind. Ultimately, Markham learns the reasons behind his former wife's murder have a very different logic than he had imagined.
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