THIS COPY IS A FIRST EDITION
It is Spring 1918, and Britain faces the prospect of defeat by Germany. In an atmosphere of near panic the search for scapegoats intensifies and two groups are singled out: pacifists and homosexuals.
Discharged from Craiglockhart War Hospital, Lieutenant Billy Prior is now working for the Ministry of Munitions Intelligence Unit in London. He is sent to interview Beattie Roper, a pacifist who has been convicted of attempting to kill Lloyd George - a stressful encounter for Prior, since Beattie helped to bring him up. In her cell he first sees the elaborately painted eye in the door and recalls the worst incident of his war service, when he picked up the eyeball of one of his men and held it in the palm of his hand. Beattie asks him whose side he is on, but, faced with the conflict of loyalties the image evokes, he cannot answer.
He begins to experince fugue states - episodes of which he has no memory - and seeks help from Dr Craiglockhart; but though Rivers tries to reassure him, Billy must ultimately fact the possibility that his other self has indeed done something dreadful.
Among Rivers's other patients is Charles Manning. Manning, like Prior is shell-shocked, but his anxiety attacks wosen when he receives a copy of an article claiming that 47,000 eminent British men and women are open to blackmail by German agents because of their homosexuality. Manning realises he is being identified as one of the 47,000 and knows that both side of his double life are now visible to unfriendly eyes.