Jenny Cooper is recovering from a bitter divorce. Her husband has custody of their teenage son and Jenny suffered a breakdown. For fifteen years she worked as a lawyer in family court; a job that was emotionally and physically draining. When she is offered the position of coroner for the Severn Vale, she jumps at the chance. A job where she can remain detached and not become emotionally involved is just what she needs.
On her first day, Jenny discovers that her predecessor, who died suddenly of a heart attack, seems to have been less than diligent in two cases. There is a teenage girl dead of an apparent overdose and a fourteen-year-old boy who appears to have hanged himself in a juvenile detention centre. No one seems to have bothered to dig deeper. The pathologist’s report is so brief as to be almost negligent. The boy’s mother insists her warnings to the authorities about her son’s state of mind were all ignored. When Jenny decides to re-open the inquest she is met with hostility and aggression from many quarters. Are they just trying to cover-up that they didn’t do a thorough job or are there more sinister motives?
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