Jack Maggs, raised and deported as a criminal, has returned from Australia, in secret and at great risk. What does he want after all these years, and why is he so interested in the comings and goings at a plush townhouse in Great Queen Street? And why is Jack himself an object of such interest to Tobias Oates, celebrated author, amateur hypnotist and fellow-burglar - in this case of people's minds, of their histories and inner phantoms? In this hugely engaging novel one of the finest of contemporary writers pays homage to his Victorian forebears.As Peter Carey's characters become embroiled in each other's furtive desires, and increasingly fall under one another's spell, their thirst for love exacts a terrible, unexpected cost.

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