n the deceptively quiet Waikato of the 1930s and 1940s, a number of lives connect in a complex web of family ties, desire and violence. The events of this story also take in boxing, farming, devotion and perversion, ranging as far as Tasmania and the Spanish Civil War. Alex, tall and solitary, striding through this novel . . . Barbara, his first love . . . Bet, strong and unobtrusive . . . And the enigmatic man in the balaclava.