A shy, bookish scholarship student from a working class family, Owen Whiting has high hopes of Oxford, only to find himself adrift and out of place among the university’s aristocrats and posh radicals. But his life takes a dramatic turn when he meets Zachary Foedern, a visiting scholar from New York. Rich, brilliant and charismatic, Zach takes Owen under his wing, introducing him to a world of experiences Owen has only ever read about.
From Oxford to the seedy underbelly of Berlin, they practise what Zach preaches, daring each other to transgress the boundaries of convention and morality, until Zach proposes the greatest transgression of all: a suicide pact. But when Zach’s plans go horribly awry, Owen is left to pick up the pieces in New York. Now he must navigate the treacherous boundaries between illusion and reality to preserve a hold on his once bright future. No one – least of all Owen – will foresee where that leads him …
A brilliant and captivating novel, dark as Patricia Highsmith's Ripley novels, with a setting that reminds one of Evelyn Waugh and texture that evokes P.G. Wodehouse. It's as sharp as a tack, and the pages turn themselves. - Benjamin Hale, author of The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore
A gripping, intellectually agile book that dresses like a coming of age narrative, but soon reveals itself to be something new, wholly original and philosophically rich ... an existential Whydunnit rather than a Whodunnit, this masterful work by Ryan Ruby will thrill you, and give you much ominous food for thought. - Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine
Brilliantly erudite, deeply engaging, and full of heart. Ryan Ruby has captured something surprising - the ineluctable sadness of youth. - Lauren Elkin, author of Flaneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London