Niall Grenham, a ‘failed priest’, emigrated to the US. He married Rona and they had a daughter, Ros, who is the light of their lives. Ros grows up to be an accomplished and well-meaning young woman. Niall cannot credit his good fortune.After a late-night graduation party, Ros tries to help her childhood friend, Mark, who has gone off the rails and is addicted to drugs. Motivated by jealousy, he engineers a car accident in which Ros is brutally killed.
Mark’s father, who works in the British Embassy, Washington D.C., is the first to realise what has happened. He puts Mark on a plane to New York to alibi him.
Niall and Rona try to deal with their grievous loss in different ways, which causes some estrangement between them. When Niall discovers it was not an accident, and there is not enough evidence to bring Mark to trial, he begins a kind of psychological warfare against Mark and his father. He gives Mark money for drugs, and gives him souvenirs of his early life with Ros. He shows him home movies that feature them both as children, happily playing. He feels diminished by these tactics but will not quit.
After many months, the pressure exerted by Niall produces a result, but does it make any difference to his monumental sense of loss? He follows Mark and his father to another country and is prepared to put his own life, marriage, and faith on the line for the sake of his beloved daughter, Ros.
“Bad things, as we know, can happen to good people. But what choices do they make when justice turns away? We live the pain of the bereaved father, and we struggle with the rightness of his decisions. This is compelling writing, in which we feel dilemmas we hope never to confront.”