While walking along the beach, Christian and his girlfriend discover a mysterious woman washed ashore. The following day, Christian meets the woman again at a yacht party and soon finds himself entangled in a web of lust, intrigue and murder.
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Coleman Silk is a worldly and admired professor who loses his job after unwittingly making a racial slur. To clear his name, Silk writes a book about the events with his friend and colleague Nathan Zuckerman, who in the process discovers a dark secret Silk has hidden his whole life. All the while, Silk engages in an affair with Faunia Farley, a younger woman whose tormented past threatens to unravel the layers of deception Silk has constructed.
A loathsome man ends up dead, but it’s not clear who’s to blame. If ever a person got what he deserved, it’s James Urbanksi, an abusive drunk who steals from his wife, Joyce, and promises her close friend Cynthia Kellogg that she’ll be the next target of his rage. At a group outing, James bleeds to death after someone cuts his throat. But because he’s such a terrible human being, police aren’t sure which of his acquaintances decided to kill him.
When a Las Vegas performer-turned-snitch named Buddy Israel decides to turn state’s evidence and testify against the mob, it seems that a whole lot of people would like to make sure he’s no longer breathing.
The corrupt Lord Ambrose D’Arcy steals the life’s work of the poor musical Professor Petry. In an attempt to stop the printing of music with D’Arcy’s name on it, Petry breaks into the printing office and accidentally starts a fire, leaving him severely disfigured. Years later, Petry returns to terrorize a London opera house that is about to perform one of his stolen operas.