With an opening chapter that highlights the duplicity of a husband towards his wife, this tragicomic novel builds on the marital dissatisfactions and grudges of its principal heroine, Julie Foster, and couples them to the literary and social dissatisfactions, grudges, etc., of a certain Peter Morrison, an unpublished and seemingly unpublishable writer, as the two bump into each other in a restaurant, after many years, and Julie agrees to accompany Morrison back to his squalid flat where, contrary to her expectations, he simply proceeds to expatiate on his political and philosophical views, and to disburden himself of a number of anti-social grudges. He does, however, invite her to visit him again and, to his surprise, she accepts the invitation and turns up a couple of days later. This time they get down to some serious sexual congress but, in the process, Julie impulsively reveals that she is married and Morrison, aghast at her deception, loses his temper and proceeds to strangle her. Overcome with remorse, he attempts to mollify Julie, now a corpse, by taking photographs of her in a variety of erotic poses, and is then faced with the unsavoury task of disposing of her body. However, an old friend of Julie's becomes suspicious by her failure to turn up at a pre-arranged rendezvous and, aware from a prior phone conversation that Julie was intending to visit Morrison, she begins to make inquiries about him from what little information she already has. Eventually she tracks him down to his latest address and, mindful of the fact that he once had amorous leanings towards her, duly falls into a frantic sexual coupling with him. Things are looking good for Peter at this point but, whilst he is out of the room, Deirdre accidentally discovers photographic evidence of Julie's murder and proceeds to accost him with it on his return. Unable to calm her down or explain away the evidence, he is obliged to kill her too, thus saddling himself with the problem of disposing of yet another corpse! Subsequently he moves to Ireland and, under the alias of James Coughlin, becomes something of an intellectual and ideological hero, the 'coming man' and potential saviour of his country. However, there is someone in the audience at one of his lectures who was with Julie in the restaurant on the day she was approached by Morrison, and this woman, who had in the meantime returned to her native land, now begins to recognize who Coughlin really is. Horrified, she rushes out of the hall and heads for home, leaving a bemused husband struggling in her frantic wake. What happens next is indeed an ironic commentary on loyalties; for caught between her recognition of Coughlin and a realization of his political importance to the country, she in unable to reveal his true identity and winds-up committing suicide to save his reputation. Before she dies, however, she has second thoughts about her terrible secret. But her expiring mumblings of the truth to her husband are misinterpreted, in what is the final and most ironic 'deceptive motive' of them all!