Professor Murray Watson is rather a sad sack. His family, his career, his affair...not even drinking offers much joy. All his energies are now focused on his research into Archie Lunan, a minor poet who drowned 30 years ago off a remote stretch of Scottish coast. By redeeming Lunan's reputation, Watson hopes to redeem his own. But the more he learns about Lunan's sordid life, the more unlikely redemption appears.