It is 1973, and the hero of this story, Ed Scripps, has left England to make his fortune in Portugal.
Portugal, though, is on the cusp of revolution and when it breaks out it seems at first as though it will benefit Ed. He has a keen eye for the business opportunity, and a winning way with the opposite sex, and as the revolution unfolds Ed manages to both win hearts and begin to make money. It looks as though his future is assured.
But as the revolution begins to lose impetus and high ideals give way to the familiar corruption of the old regime, Ed’s life begins to implode as well, reflecting the collapse of the new ideals in the face of a harsh economic climate. In an attempt to recoup his business losses, he soon becomes involved in drug dealing and begins to move among the shady figures of Portugal’s underworld, among whom he is hopelessly out of his depth.
As his monetary struggles increase, he then finds he has lost his wife to another woman, and then his best friend Mark is sucked into a mysterious and vicious cult and Mark’s wife appeals to Ed for help.
With danger seemingly lurking around every corner, Ed decides he must do the right thing.
A realistically complex character, certainly neither wholly black nor white, Ed has few scruples about making money from drug dealing or being serially unfaithful to whichever woman he is with at the time, yet the reader never fails to cheer for him, so sympathetically is he drawn.
This is a thoroughly convincing portrayal of time and place, and a great read that draws you in from the start.