In postwar London, a boy is drawn into a labyrinth of personal betrayals, intrigue, love, and revolution: “In short, a tremendous yarn” (Paul Theroux).
On his twelfth birthday, Victor Baxter is spirited away from boarding school by a stranger known only as the Captain who claims to have won him in a backgammon game with the boy’s diabolical father. Settling into a new life in a dire London flat, Victor becomes the willing ward of his mysterious abductor and the tender and childless Liza. He quickly adapts to the only family he’s ever known, despite the Captain’s long disappearances on suspicious “adventures” and a guarded curiosity about this peculiar but devoted couple who call him son. Then one day, in pursuit of answers, and perhaps an adventure of his own, Victor responds to an entreaty from the Captain to come to Panama. What transpires in this world of dangerous imposture is absolutely revelatory—for both Victor and the Captain.
In Graham Greene’s final novel, “we enter those disparate worlds [he] has made his own—the England of Brighton Rock and The Ministry of Fear, and the exotic Central American territories in which his restless talent has so often roamed” (The New York Times).