Bad News by Edward St. Aubyn

Opening her arms so that her black silk dress stretched from her wrists to her knees, like bat’s wings, she cocked her head a little to one side, and exclaimed with excrutiated sympathy, ‘Oh, Patrick, we were so sorry to hear your news.’
‘Well,’ said Patrick, tapping the casket he held under his arm, ‘you know how it is: ashes to ashes, dust to dust. What the Lord giveth he taketh away. After what I regard, in this case, as an unnaturally long delay.’
‘Is that…?’ asked Mrs. Banks, staring round-eyed at the brown-paper bag.
‘My father,’ confirmed Patrick.
‘I must tell Ogilvy we’ll be one more for dinner,’ she said with peals of chic laughter. That was Nancy Banks all over, as magazines often pointed out after photographing her drawing room, so daring but so right.
It could be wine swirling in the shattered cup above. Or, it could be blood. As I close the last page of Bad News I am reeling with the story of what Patrick’s life has become.
He flies from London to New York to collect his father’s ashes, and in the course of several days spends ten thousand dollars in hotel bills, taxis, restaurants, and drugs. So many drugs, so much coke and heroin and speed, that I keep expecting to turn the page to find him dead.
I want to bring him home and comfort him.
I want to make it all better.
I can’t imagine how he can survive in this lifestyle with this much grief. And so, I’m on to Some Hope, the third of the Patrick Melrose novels, to find out.

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