Liz Headleand, a London psychiatrist, receives a package from Southeast Asia containing a variety of scraps of writing and notes by her friend Stephen Cox, plus parts of two human finger bones, photographs, and other items. She consults her close friend Alix Bowen and continues to pore over the fragments, for she is half in love with Stephen and is worried. She contacts Hattie Osborne, a friend of Stephen who is living in his London flat while he is away. Hattie begins telling Liz what she knows about Stephen, who had left on a trip to Bangkok, Thailand, to research Pol Pot for a play he had been writing. No one knows how long he has been gone.
Months earlier, Stephen is sitting next to a former Thai beauty queen on his flight to Bangkok. Miss Porntip, now an entrepreneur, takes him under her wing after they arrive. Stephen soon meets Konstantin Vassiliou, a photographer, who introduces him to a network of foreign travelers and aid workers. Meanwhile, in London, Liz goes to a banquet to raise funds for the restoration of Asian temples at the invitation of her former husband. She sits with her friend Esther Breuer, an art historian, who is being wooed by government minister Robert Oxenholme.
In no time, Robert and Esther marry. At their wedding, Liz meets Simon Grunewald, an ethnologist who had met Stephen in Bangkok. He tries to help Liz understand the contents of the package that she received from Asia, and confirms that the package was...
(The entire section is 549 words.)