Set at the fictitious University of Gloucester in England, Lodge’s latest comic novel of adultery and academic backbiting tackles an even more complex subject — the human mind. Slickly charming Ralph Messenger is a renowned cognitive scientist who enjoys tape-recording his random thoughts — usually about his extramarital dalliances. New writer-in-residence Helen Reed is a recent widow, and her witty journal details how Ralph keeps hitting on her even as he makes an excellent intellectual sparring partner. An omniscient narrator ties together the two alternating, bristling viewpoints, which come to loosely represent the chasm between science and art: Will the two ever meet, in bed or elsewhere? While some subplots seem slightly overthought, Lodge grounds his philosophical inquiries in clever, sexy humor.