When a fairly bright but otherwise undistinguished teacher of English gets it into his head to try a new adventure in Russia for a year, he might not quite appreciate that there are people watching and waiting for the new foreigners to arrive, post USSR.
And being swept up by events quite beyond the world of academia, there are certain things any foreigner needs - a "krisha" or protection of some form, a network of friends and at least one lover - but how far can each of these be trusted?
When various criminal elements get it into their heads that the foreigner is surplus to requirements, when the female can be deadlier than the male and when cultural misunderstandings abound, things can become overcomplicated and it's necessary to grow up and harden up very quickly in order to survive.
None of this was apparent to him in the Garden on the outskirts of a Russian town that balmy summer at the beginning, when romance was seemingly the only prospect on the horizon.
At the same time, as the global face of the political world changes and certain things begin to fall apart worldwide, predicated mainly on money but also on some sort of strange compulsion to bring humanity low, pretty soon the targetted find they need to band together and flee.
Perhaps the worst of it is the sheer tedium, punctuated by pointless acts of gross violence which constitute the new concept of "living" in a reconstituted world but the best of it is how adaptable and inventive the human can actually be when forced to work together, not unlike herding cats....................
Notes on the writing of Masquerade