In the bestselling tradition of Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta, M. R. Hall's heroine Jenny Cooper makes her debut as a coroner with a detective's eye and a woman with a home life as complicated as her cases.
In this brilliant debut, Jenny investigates the disappearance of two young Muslim students, who vanished without a trace seven years ago. The police had concluded that the boys, under surveillance for some time for suspicion of terrorism, had fled to Pakistan to traffic in the atrocities of Islamic fanaticism. Now, sufficient time has passed for the law to declare the boys legally dead. A final declaration is left up to a coroner, Jenny Cooper.
As Jenny's official inquest progresses, the stench of corruption is unmistakable. Not only does it appear that British Security Services played a role, but the involvement of an American intelligence agent soon makes it clear that a vast conspiracy is in play. As Jenny builds an ever-strengthening case implicating a shocking collection of power and influence, she meets with a determined and increasingly menacing resistance. When she links the students' "vanishing" to the unidentified corpse of a beautiful young woman and the fate of a missing nuclear scientist, Jenny is forced into an arena in which she is pushed to the breaking point and beyond. She must struggle with her own inner demons while fighting a lone and desperate battle to bring an unspeakable crime to justice.