It is a seductive world in which the action of this astonishing novel unfolds: cultivated, privileged, secure, the close-knit world of an Oxford college, epitomized by the Master and the Masters house, a haven of good taste, intelligence and aristocratic nonconformity. With one or two exceptions, its inhabitants would - if they were to thank God for anything - thank Him that they are not as other men. Yet these are not stonyhearted snobs; they have accepted an outsider - Nevil Rigden, product of a city slum. He is a friend to the great Thomas Paget, husband to Pagets sister, and he stands high in the Masters favour. Bemused by elegance, urbanity and intellect, we discover with shock and then with horror the web of abomination being spun, inexorably, fatally, within this charmed - and charming - circle. No one can read this story unshaken.