n assignment in Vienna, photographer Ian Jarrett falls suddenly and desperately in love with a woman he meets by pure chance, Marian Esguard. Back in England, he seperates from his wife and goes to meet Marian at an agreed rendezvous, only to hear her tell him on the telephone that she will not after all be coming. Then she vanishes from his life as mysteriously as she entered it. Searching frantically for the woman for whom he has sacrificed everything, Jarrett stumbles on a Dorset churchyard full of gravestones of dead Esguards. He also meets a psychotherapist, Daphne Sanger. She too is looking for someone: a former patient who has come to believe she is the reincarnation of Marian Esguard, who lived in Regency times and, it emerges, may have invented photography ten years before Fox Talbot. But if so, why is Marian Esgaurd unknown to history? And who and where is the woman he met and fell in love with in Vienna? Jarrett sets out to solve a mystery whose origins may be 170 years old and lie amid the magical-seeming properties of early photography. But at the end of the search a trap awaits him. He is caught in a web of deception, the revelation of which is Robert Goddard's most cunning twist to date.