A chef, a portraitist and a barber are taken hostage in a coup to overthrow their boss, the President. They are held captive in a palatial retreat in the mountains high above the capital city. Far below them, chaos tears through the streets. The chef's daughter, the portraitist's wife and the barber's lover watch their men from the shadows. In such precarious times, intimate relationships are as dangerous as political ones. As the old order falls, so does the veil that hides the truth about these men and women's secret passions. Drawing her readers masterfully towards the novel's devastating climax, Ceridwen Dovey reveals how humanity's most atavistic impulses – vanity, vengeance and greed – seethe, relentlessly, just beneath the veneer of civility.