I’m not sure why I picked up this book, but I’m glad I did. It is quite compatibly a mystery, a reflection on old-age, and a commentary on contemporary standards of usefulness, whether of people, institutions, or buildings. The prologue opens with an ending and a question, and the chapters that follow delve into the intricacies of the human condition, albeit with a light hand. Frank Allcroft, a television news anchor, is dealing with loss—the hit-and-run death of his long-time friend and predecessor at the news, and the systematic demolition of his architect father’s postwar buildings. He and his wife have been trying to sell their country house for years, feeling isolated in a charmless countryside. Phil is also trying to deal with his always remote mother, now living in an assisted-living center. This all sounds quite depressing, but actually it’s not—the author has a light way with handling the grimmer facets of life, and treads delicately with the aging process. Although set in the UK, the life conditions remain the same—aging, loss of usefulness, vitality, and hair, the sad fact of destroying or ignoring people and things that were once necessary, if not essential, and the undeniable ray of hope that can only come from human intervention.