In this book, a quiet Suffolk village, 1944. Fourteen-year-old Gerald Haxton is a lonely boy who regards his still-born twin brother Jack as his only real friend. His mother, a famous children's writer, guards Jack's memory jealously, and Gerald, disturbed and unpopular, has no hope of ever measuring up to him. Playing in the woods near his home, Gerald discovers the body of his elder sister buried in a shallow grave. She has been beaten to death with a wooden stake and her boyfriend, a young GI, is hanged for the crime. London, 1995. As the country prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of VE Day, Gerald, who remains a loner, is nearing retirement. Obsessed by routine, he still talks to his dead brother, Jack. Surrounded by nostalgic artefacts at the TV prop-hire company where he works, he is constantly reminded of the past, and with it, his sister Vera's death. Hoping to escape his lonely existence, he takes to following Mel, the twelve-year-old daughter of a colleague. A few days later Mel, who bears a striking resemblance to Vera, disappears.