The main characters in the book are John Wade and Kathy Wade. John Wade is a politician running for a position in the U.S. Senate but he suffers defeat after details of his actions in the Vietnamese war become public so he rents a cottage with his wife in the Lake of the Woods to escape the public humiliation. He grew up believing he was a magician of sorts and acted like one throughout his life. His wife, Kathy Wade is a college lover who he later married. She hates politics and despite persevering with her political husband, she has an affair out of frustrations and confesses it to John, promising not to do it again. She is happy that John loses the elections since he will devote more time to her.
Other characters include Claude and Ruth Rasmussen who are Wade’s neighbors at their cottage home. Arthur Lux is the Sheriff at Lake Of The Woods County and is in charge of the search for Kathy Wade when she goes missing. Myra Shaw is a fat girl who witnesses John and Kathy fighting. Vinny Pearson is a cousin to Myra and is a police officer who suspects John is guilty right from the start of the investigation. Anthony Carbo is an overweight man who acted as John’s campaign manager when he was politicking. Sandra Karra owns a studio that John frequents due to his love for magic.
The author develops the characters in a continuous narration where he introduces each of them depending on the situation and not all of them at once. The use of first person narration make the characters more relatable since the reader feels like he already knows them. The use of flashbacks and forward make it possible for one to understand the characters better, for instance, we learn the history of John and the Vietnamese war through flashbacks.