Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Still raw from an acrimonious divorce, former lawyer Jenny Cooper pops pills to control anxiety as she slowly adjusts to her new career as the coroner for the Severn Vale District, near Bristol, England, in Hall's solid U.S. debut. When a distraught mother asks Cooper to hold an inquest to declare her son legally dead, Cooper is hesitant to take the case. Nazim Jamal and a friend disappeared seven years earlier while at university and, according to the police, probably fled to Afghanistan to join al-Qaeda at the urging of a radical mosque. Nazim's mother is adamant her son was not an extremist. As Cooper's investigation broadens, she's met with resistance not only from the police but also MI5, who claim Nazim's disappearance may have national security implications. Hall (The Coroner) creates an appealingly flawed heroine, but struggles with pacing and the difficult task of precisely defining the coroner's role in solving crimes." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[M.R. Hall] really gets under the skin of his heroine...good and imaginative writing." -- The Literary Review
"M R Hall has created a wonderful heroine." -- Lynda La Plante, international bestselling author of Above Suspicion
"A brilliant, original and gripping crime novel." -- Sophie Hannah, international bestselling author of Little Face
"An intriguingly flawed and appealing character....A series to watch." -- Booklist
"Add Jenny Cooper to the list of memorable British crime novel characters." —Pittsburgh Tribune
"Hall creates an appealingly flawed heroine."—Publishers Weekly
About the Author
M. R. Hall, a screenwriter, producer, and former criminal lawyer, is the author of The Disappeared. Educated at Hereford Cathedral School and Worcester College, Oxford, he lives in the U.K. with his wife and two sons.