A vulnerable boy hangs himself inside a secure young offenders' centre. A teenage girl is found dead of a heroin overdose. Then, after dealing with these two cases, Coroner Harry Marshall suddenly dies, apparently from natural causes.
Jenny Cooper – freshly divorced and recovering from a minor breakdown – is now the coroner for the Severn Vale. As she embarks on a new life, she cannot escape the demons of her past: an egotistical ex-husband with a new girlfriend, an estranged son and an increasing reliance on antidepressants.
Jenny's curiosity is quickly aroused by Marshall's puzzling behaviour before his death. What injustice was he planning to uncover? And what caused his abrupt change of heart? Jenny is determined to investigate further, but in the face of bureaucratic resistance and aggressive journalists, how much pressure can she cope with? How far is she willing to go in search of the truth? And how much will she be forced to sacrifice?