By any reasonable measure, Daniel Feeld is a successful writer. Last year he earned nearly half a million pounds, and his latest television series, titled Karaoke, is currently in production. But he is not a well man and, so far, the doctors have failed to discover the cause of the pain in his guts. As he lies in the X-ray room, he notices that the medical staff seem to be mouthing the words of his latest script. It's probably due to the sedatives. But later, on the street, the same thing happens again and, come to think of it, that announcer on the radio earlier this morning ...That evening, Daniel is having dinner with Anna, the producer of his new series, in the same brasserie used a few weeks earlier for a location shoot, when a young man and woman enter and sit at a distant table. Oblivious of Anna's attempts to warn him that the series director, Nick Balmer, is planning to change key scenes in the script, Daniel is intent on watching the newcomers' lips. He can tell that they are
Director Nick Balmer argues with Ian, his editor, about Nick's obsession with actress Linda Langer, whom the director wants to make the focus of every scene in Daniel Feeld's film. He is unaware that Linda is under the control of the Karaoke-club owner, ""Pig"" Mailion, who means to blackmail him.Meanwhile, after his attack last night, Daniel has been admitted to St. Christopher's Hospital, where more tests are to be performed. To his surprise, he is visited there by Sandra Sollars, who is genuinely worried about him. His surprise turns to unease, however, when she mentions the name of the club's owner and he, in turn, terrifies her by reeling off countless details of her life, all out of his script.Producer Anna Griffiths reports to Nick Balmer that she has discovered a serious liability problem: somehow, Daniel Feeld has named the creepy villain of Karaoke after a real person, but the name cannot easily be altered due to an embedded joke. The name is ""Pig"" Mailion.
In her distress at Daniel's seeming clairvoyance, Sandra has left her handbag behind, and Daniel discovers a significant detail that is not in his script: Sandra possesses a small pistol.Mailion sets his blackmail scheme into action, but it has an unexpected effect: Nick assumes the blackmailer is a former boyfriend of Linda's named Peter Beasley and, realizing Linda has set him up, is freed of his obsession with her. But when (obliquely referring to the script problem) he tells her he must ""eliminate 'Pig' Mailion"", dangerous misunderstandings ensue.Daniel pays a visit to the Hammersmith address that he found in Sandra's handbag. There he meets Sandra's deranged mother, Mrs. Haynes, whose face is a mass of scars. When Sandra arrives, he demands to know why she has a gun. She points to her mum's disfigured face, and tells him it was ""Pig"" Mailion who had done it, twenty-odd years ago, with a broken milk bottle, and she means to take revenge.Daniel, at last regaining some control of his
Daniel, while putting his affairs in order, stumbles across an old newspaper cutting he had completely forgotten about. It has a photo of Arthur "Pig" Mailion, with Daniel's annotation in the margin, "How about this 'geezer' for a character! Work on it!" When Daniel phones Ben Baglin in a panic, his agent advises him to burn the cutting and deny all knowledge. Dan then asks Ben for a small favour or two.Nick Balmer, already sporting a black eye from the punch he received from Daniel, is visted by two heavies sent by "Pig" Malion. Nick has no idea why, but they beat him to within an inch of his life. And just in time for his last-ditch effort to patch up his marriage, over lunch at the local Italian restaurant.Ben Baglin visits the Hammersmith address to deliver a beautiful hand-made wooden jigsaw to Mrs. Haynes, and a rather more substantial gift for Sandra Sollars: a bequest of just under one million pounds, contingent on her giving up her vendetta against Mailion.