Former foreign correspondent Charles Mortimer is all washed up, living a hand-to-mouth existence in Manhattan, wondering how things could have gone so wrong for him.
A chance discovery of a newspaper obituary takes him back to the beginning of his career, when he was a young, hopeful man reporting from the Sahara Desert in the company of beautiful French photographer Celeste Dumas. The two narrowly escape death by bullet, grenade, thirst and heatstroke and, ultimately, drowning. By the end of their adventure, Mortimer has begun his life as a successful, cynical journalist.
Fifteen years roll by, and Mortimer finds himself again in Algeria, where he perpetrates the great error of his professional life and realizes, finally, what it was he lost so long ago in the desert wastes.
By the winner of the Author's Club First Novel Award, Guardian First Book Award and The Times First Book Award.