M. R. Hall has given readers is a most unusual protagonist in Jenny Cooper: a lawyer just named Coroner of Severn Vale District, Jenny is hoping to find quiet and peace as she recovers from a traumatic divorce. While she worries about her only child, a teenaged son who is currently living mostly with his father, she copes with debilitating anxiety attacks.
Jenny has moved just over the border to a small village in Wales, into an old house whose grounds need work but which brings her solace. But hoping to find the respite she needs doesn’t seem to be on Jenny’s horizon as she hits the ground running, taking over the office from a deceased coroner whose death has left his office jumbled. Neglected files she unearths reveal dark secrets that lead to a trail of buried evidence. Before she realizes it, Jenny is asking too many questions and finds herself involved in the strange behavior of her predecessor and his final cases.
Several young people have died within weeks of each other, and a facility for troubled teens is a link that surfaces as Jenny investigates. While working to gain the confidence of her new assistant and learning about her new neighbor, Jenny battles local officials and upholds the law to unearth the truth. She finds herself in a kind of jeopardy she’s never imagined a coroner having to face.
This is a promising new series with its a different and interesting angle into the responsibilities and laws surrounding a coroner. Hall’s sequel, The Disappeared, is on my Christmas list.