Erskine Flesching, our unreliable narrator, admits that he's 40; that he returned three years ago to his childhood home by the sea to live with his mother, who he hasn't seen since he was 10; and that he has been a successful opera singer. What he won't spell out is which part of him a dog bit off when he was a child; that what he obsessively carves out of wood are penises; or why so many people from his past - father, sister, lover and patroness - seem to be dead. And he appears to be addressing a young woman who has stolen both his heart and secrets, and is locked up in his private sanctuary. Is she dead too? Can he be trusted? Is this just wish fulfilment or a madman's confession? Like a demented spider, Erskine Flesching spins his victims and his readers into his web. By the end you don't know who's been had.