Set in a Russian prison camp, this novel begins at a baseball game featuring the Defective Baptists versus the Fideists. As in other Mathews novels, there is a plot (of sorts), and here it is one of revenge. Our narrator/hero is a dental assistant in the camp, and she begins to plot revenge against Dr. Evelyn Roak, who in removing a bone spur, managed also to remove an index and ring finger; the narrator had been a violinist. The plot reaches one of its climaxes when the narrator, the catcher for the Defective Baptists, attempts to substitute the ball with a bomb.
When Dr. Roak is released from the prison, the narrator escapes in order to pursue her, and thus begins the Mathewsian digressive journey from Afghanistan to Venice, then onto India and Morocco and France. And all of this takes place amid Mathews’s fictional concerns and play with games, puzzles, arcana, and stories within stories.