One hot January afternoon in Mawson, Australia, a young boy sets out to burgle his mother's room. Today, he thinks, he will open the special drawer, the locked drawer that must contain secrets. And it does. But sometimes we keep secrets for a reason. Sometimes a secret is there to hold those we love safe. Twenty years on, an onlooker would see in Gerard Freeman the boy he once was; a little more timid and unworldly, perhaps, but essentially the same solitary, serious child. Gerard has not left Mawson - he works as a librarian at the university - but he now lives for only two things: his crippled penfriend Alice, whom he has never met, but for whom he yearns with all his heart, and the manuscript he found in that locked drawer. For within those pages were the first hints at the terrible story that haunted his mother and, finally, destroyed her. And there must be other manuscripts which will contain the key, if only he can find them. In John Harwood's deliciously clever first novel, Gerard's quest to unveil the mystery that shrouds his family, and his life, will take him from Mawson to London, from the safety of his books to the terror of a ghost story come alive.