Benjamin Markovits’ previous novel, Imposture, opened with a prologue, allegedly signed by the author himself. It informed readers that the tale of literary deception they were about to begin was in fact the work of a former teaching colleague of his named Peter Pattieson. It claimed that Pattieson had left Markovits a bundle of papers, among which was a series of novels on the life of the poet Lord Byron. Imposture was the first of this series, written in a perfect facsimile of a style “nearly two hundred years old”. Pattieson, Markovits said, spoke and wrote “Romantic like a mother tongue”.