The characters in this award-winning debut collection are very good at losing things: children, lovers, hope, the plot. They discover the past is not a place easily escaped from, as it pursues them with startling, sometimes horrifying, consequences. A writer takes his research a little too far; a couple, stricken with guilt and grief, prepare a last meal; a group of swingers is rocked by the arrival of a new couple; a man takes a train journey to learn how to kill again; a deformed brother and sister exact revenge half a mile underground; a modern-day messiah astonishes a criminal gang; a witch grows weary of her unemployed husband; a pair of luckless gamblers are convinced they can beat the system; and a father is forever tormented by the few minutes his back was turned. You wouldn't want to be the people in these stories, and yet, as their bizarre and unsettling worlds unfurl, it's impossible not to connect with them, their lives and the things that happen to them remaining with you long after reading. Provocative and bold, these stories will get under your skin.