From their childhood, Jack Rathbone has enjoyed the adoration of his sister Gin. When both attend art school in London, it is a painful wrench for Gin to watch Jack fall under the spell of Vera Savage, an older, flamboyant artist. Jack and Vera run off to New York within weeks and, from a bruised and bereft distance, sister Gin follows the couple's progress to Port Mungo, a river town in the swamps of the Gulf of Honduras. There, Jack devotes himself to his art, while Vera succumbs to infidelity and a chronic restlessness, which even the birth of two daughters cannot subdue. In his spellbinding narrative, Patrick McGrath tracks these individuals across decades and continents: the latter-day Gauguin figure Jack, his buccaneering mate Vera and their two girls, Peg and Anna, cast adrift in their parents' chaos - as observed by Gin, their far from detached chronicler. It is ultimately a world of dark tropical impulses and Manhattan art market forces, where a mysterious death is swathed in tight complicit secrecy, and the imperatives of narcissism and art hold human beings in outlandish thrall.