29 April 2011.
ISBN: 978-0-230-71141-9 (TPB)
Severn Vale District Coroner Jenny Cooper is called to a cemetery in Bristol where the naked body of a man has been discovered – the sign of the cross scored into his flesh. DI Tony Wallace SCO presiding, seems relatively informative, not the usual obstructive Police Officer she has come to expect.
Returning to her office Jenny is confronted with Father Lucas Starr who entreats Jenny to look into the death of an ex-porno star, reborn again, high profile political campaigner, Eve Donaldson for whom Paul Craven has been sentenced for her murder - but did he do? Father Starr begs Jenny to interview Paul Craven herself, convinced that once she meets him she will be certain of his innocence. Jenny decides to order a final postmortem on Eve Donaldson, little knowing that investigating the death will lead her into conflict with influential people who have a lot to lose should she delve too deeply into The Mission Church of God. As she pursues her enquiries she comes up against blank walls, but when she discovers that two other recent deaths, including the man found in the cemetery are also members of the same religious organisation she begins to suspect a link to the death of Eve Donaldson. The odds are stacked against Jenny, as attempts to silence her come from several sources. But Jenny is undeterred as she seeks the truth
Jenny is still seeing Dr Allen for her own problems, and whilst a recent visit to her father who is suffering from dementia has resulted in a startling revelation, she is reluctant to share this information with Dr Allen. All she says is that she is now coping. But she is aware that it is only her medication that is holding her demons at bay – they are still lurking at the margins of her subconscious – waiting in the shadows.
Jenny is formidable on one level, that of a coroner - her questioning and control of the inquest is skilful, but she is fragile on a personal level, looking to fall apart at any moment. She constantly pops pills and it is clear that without pills she cannot function.
A compelling read, as
a young woman with personal demons doggedly chips away as she seeks truth and
justice. With plenty of court room drama and a satisfying conclusion this book
is highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes
M.R. Hall was born in London in 1967, he was educated at Hereford Cathedral School and Worcester College, Oxford, where he graduated in law. During a career at the Bar, working mostly in the field of criminal law, he tried to learn the craft of screen writing, eventually getting his first commission in television writing an episode of the ITV hit series, Kavanagh QC starring John Thaw. He went on to write further episodes and shortly afterwards was commissioned to create a series for the new Channel Five, ‘Wing and A Prayer’. The first season earned him a BAFTA nomination in the best series category. For over ten years Matthew has been a screen writer and producer and has written over forty hours of prime time drama for BBC1 and ITV. His debut novel, The Coroner, was published by Pan Macmillan in the UK in 2009 and was nominated for the Crime Writer’s Association Gold Dagger in the best novel category. The second novel in the Jenny Cooper series, The Disappeared, was published in the USA by Simon and Schuster on 1st December 2009 and in the UK by Pan Macmillan in January 2010. The third novel in the same series, The Redeemed, was published in April 2011 in the UK and May 2011 in the USA. The fourth in the series, The Flight was published in the UK on 2 February 2012. He lives and works in the Wye valley in South Wales.