It is May in Chelsea, London. The glittering river is unusually high on an otherwise ordinary afternoon. Adam Kindred, a young climatologist in town for a job interview, ambles along the Embankment, admiring the view. He is pleasantly surprised to come across a little Italian bistro down a leafy side street. During his meal he strikes up a conversation with a solitary diner at the next table, who leaves soon afterwards. With horrifying speed, this chance encounter leads to a series of malign accidents through which Adam will lose everything - home, family, friends, job, reputation, passport, credit cards, mobile phone - never to get them back.
The police are searching for him. There is a reward for his capture. A hired killer is stalking him. He is alone and anonymous in a huge, pitiless modern city. Adam has nowhere to go but down - underground. He decides to join that vast army of the disappeared and the missing that throng London's lowest levels as he tries to figure out what to do with his life and struggles to understand the forces that have made it unravel so spectacularly. His quest will take him all along the River Thames, from affluent Chelsea to the sink estates of the East End, and on the way he will encounter all manner of London's denizens - aristocrats, prostitutes, evangelists and policewomen amongst them - and version after new version of himself. William Boyd's electric follow-up to Costa Novel of the Year Restless is a heart-in-mouth conspiracy novel about the fragility of social identity, the corruption at the heart of big business, and the secrets that lie hidden in the filthy underbelly of everyday city.