The American poet John Shade is dead; murdered. His last poem, "Pale Fire", is put into a book, together with a preface, a lengthy commentary and notes by Shade' editor, Charles Kinbote. Known on campus as the "Great Beaver", Kinbote is haughty, inquisitive, intolerant, but is he also mad, bad - and even dangerous? As his wildly eccentric annotations slide into the personal and the fantastical, Kinbote reveals perhaps more than he should.
Nabokov's darkly witty, richly inventive masterwork is a suspenseful whodunit, a story of one-upmanship and dubious penmanship, and a glorious literary conundrum.