Like most of us, Mark Wakely had always put death in the too-hard basket. Around death he was painfully awkward, strangely self-conscious: death-shy. He was curiously distanced from his own parents' deaths. Thirty years later, he went on a journey to confront one of the most intensely personal yet universal experiences: our own mortality. With Mark as our guide, we are introduced to morticians and embalmers, rabbis and doctors, coffin makers and gravediggers.
Professor Percival Marlowe is a brilliant, elderly astrophysicist who is dying - his greatest achievement still unfinished. Doctor Carl Dorning, a neurosurgeon, finally discovers a secret method of transplanting memories from one person to another, thanks to Marlowe's millions. Miguel Sanchez, a homeless boy, agrees to become the recipient of Marlowe's knowledge and personality in this unorthodox experiment, enticed by Dorning's promises of intelligence, wealth, and respect.