While straightening out the basement in preparation for his lodger, Charles discovers hundreds of items stored by his long dead ancestors, artefacts which an expert tells him are very valuable as they represent a significant period in Negro history.
Anniston moves in and takes up residence in the basement as a willing prisoner in a specially constructed metal cage. After selling some of his heirlooms Charles is no longer so financially dependent on Anniston and subtle changes take place in their relationship. The author introduces themes of race, sin and atonement and in a curious role reversal there are echoes of black slavery with Charles the black gaoler and Anniston his white prisoner.
This is a deceptively simple book yet is in fact multi-layered and dense with allegory. As a modern fable, the tale which unfolds is eerie and unsettling. Mosley's writing is precise and uncluttered and he has created memorable characters here.