Philip Winter has no other option but to fake his own death - his life as he knows it is over. A mild, sweet-tempered salesman at an elite department store, he never suspects a nicely dressed woman will make a pass at him . . . and then accuse him of rape when he turns down her advances. Even though he is acquitted, he loses everything including his job and his wife's trust. He just wants to disappear, and finds himself joining the lost world of the homeless.
When Philip drifts into the village of Chingbury, his life intersects with a group of animal-rights activists led by a rather frightening young woman named Tessa. Tessa has her own obsessions, which are taking those around her in a terrifying direction. Philip's world will soon be shaken, or ended, by emotions exploding in very unexpected ways.