"Historian James Appleby uncovers a dangerous secret hidden deep in a chest of 400-year-old documents. To his horror, its discovery ignites a global firestorm that threatens to engulf all that he loves.
As Appleby's research inspires a worldwide movement, his enemies begin a murderous hunt from Amsterdam to Washington, New York and all over England.
Scorched by the embers of his marriage and his weakness for extra-marital affairs, Appleby finds out just how dangerous ideas can be."
That's A Man Against a Background of Flames by Paul Hoggart (brother of the late Simon), and here is the opening passage:
"When the landline rang it was so unexpected that it made him jump. As it turned out later this was a rather mild reaction. If he had had the slightest notion of what lay in store as a result of his answering it, Appleby might have wrenched the antiquated handset from its socket, hurled it through the quaint little oriel window and watched with grim satisfaction as it splashed into the river. But having no such clairvoyant intimations, he took the conventional course of action and picked it up.
It was a glowing Wednesday evening in late May, and he was installed for the rest of the summer in cosy, if cramped, rooms in Despenser College. Despenser is one of Cambridge University's oldest, smallest and most obscure foundations, and he was in one of the few buildings whose medieval walls are lapped by the Cam. Another man might have been blissfully content in such privileged surroundings, but as one of his closest friends put it, Appleby was 'good-humouredly dyspeptic'...."
Inclined to read on? I am.