Professor Hengist Morton Embry, introduced in the first moments of this novel, is the glue that holds the story together. Professor Embry has a theory that mere circumstances is not enough to explain life’s events, and thus cannot have caused four seemingly random deaths in an IRA bombing of an English seaside hotel. He hopes that a thorough study of the lives of those individuals prior to the bombing will prove his theory of “circumstance-chain.”
Dominic Mayor made his fortune playing the stock markets, but despite his riches, he’s still not an entirely happy man. Dominic’s wife Fenella cannot believe that Dominic truly cares for her, and nothing he does can change her mind. When Fenella inherits a Scottish estate, she insists that she and Dominic move there and refuses to believe that Dominic’s insistence on discussing the matter is anything less than proof that he no longer loves her.
Dominic and Fenella divorce and Dominic begins rebuilding his life. He buys a seaside resort hotel for his stepmother, remarries, and moves out to the coast to help manage the hotel. It seems that his life is finally headed toward happiness. Until the terrorist bombing. Is the Mayor family’s presence at the fated hotel any more than coincidence, or is it related to events in Dominic’s early life? Could the professor’s theory be fact?
The Mayor family is not the only one involved in the bombing; each victim’s history is detailed, and any one of those histories would make a fine short story. Taken as a whole, the stories become more than they at first might seem.