The Labour Party has unexpectedly won a narrow majority in the 2018 general election. But the new government is weak and divided, its unpopular leader embattled in the House of Commons. A group of eminent figures from the party's past see an opportunity to re-establish their grip over its future by replacing the prime minister with a figurehead they can manipulate to their own ends.
Snubbed by aristocratic neighbour Lord Frampton at a coming-of-age ball, Donald Oliver dreams of the day he'll have his vengeance. A wild daughter. Laura Oliver, beautiful and tempestuous, falls in love with Giovanni, an Italian ex-prisoner-of-war, now a humble cook. Disdaining her father's snobbishness - and his wrath - the couple flees to London.
So far it had been a typical New Year's Eve house party. But Mr Satterthwaite, a keen observer of human nature, sensed that the real drama of the evening was yet to unfold. And so it proved when a mysterious stranger arrived after midnight.