Mark Langworthy has just returned home after a stint as a colonial administrator in India. Once a promising writer, his dreams and idealism have been extinguished, and he returns stricken with malaria and fatigued in both body and spirit. When he meets his nephew, Paul, an ingenuous orphan of eighteen and an aspiring writer, Mark sees in the boy a chance for redemption. Over the course of an English summer they form a close though sometimes difficult friendship, but when Paul begins a love affair with one of his uncle's former acquaintances, Anne, things begin to unravel. A series of circumstances threatens the bond they have developed, and when Anne suggests that Mark's interest in Paul may not be what it seems, both Mark and Paul will have to come to terms with their feelings and discover the true nature of love and friendship.
Published in 1948, An Air That Kills is the third of Francis King's more than thirty novels. Widely acclaimed as one of the finest novelists of his generation, King displays in this early work all the imaginative energy and ardour of a young writer dealing with a theme which he clearly felt profoundly. This 60th anniversary edition includes a new introduction by the author.