One fateful night in a quiet Dutch street during the German occupation, a collaborator is shot by the Resistance. Fearing reprisals if the body is found outside their house, a couple of burghers park the corpse outside the neighbours', with the result that the family is executed. The only survivor is 12-year-old Anton, and these traumatic events determine the course of his life over the next 30 years, leaving him numb to the march of history and troubled by flashbacks. Anton's exorcism is a long haul, awash with madeleine cakes and intimations of the randomness of things. Rademakers never quite reconciles the needs of the psychological detective story with those of biography, settling finally for a divinity which shapes our ends, but raises interesting moral questions along the way.