Ned Maddstone has the world at his feet. He is handsome, talented and about to go to Cambridge, after which he is expected to follow his father into politics. But an unfortunate confrontation with a boy in his school results in a prank that goes badly wrong and suddenly he's incarcerated - without chance of release. So begins a year long process of torment and hopelessness, which will destroy his very identity, until almost nothing remains of him but this unquenchable desire for revenge. Inspired by the Count of Monte Cristo, Fry's psychological thriller is written with the pace, wit and shrewd insight that we have come to expect from one of our finest novelists.