An early morning call brings Belfast detective Serena Flanagan to the scene of a sudden death. Henry Garrick, the owner of a successful local car dealership, who had been horrifically maimed in a car accident five months ago, appears to have taken his own life. A simple case, it should be wrapped up in a few days, but something doesn't feel right to Flanagan, despite the fact that there is no evidence of foul play.
As she investigates, Flanagan interviews Roberta Garrick, Henry's widow, who is comforted in her grief by Reverend Peter McKay, rector of the local church and a close family friend. Flanagan is carrying heavy personal burdens, her mind and marriage nearly at breaking point, and on impulse she confides in the rector, seeking his spiritual help. But with the secrets McKay is keeping, he is in no position to help anyone. His faith long gone, he is lost in a spiral of lust and guilt from which he sees no escape. Until, that is, the policewoman offers him a glimpse of salvation.
Flanagan ignores her superiors advice to close the case, call it a suicide, and be done with it. As she picks at the threads of the dead man's life, a disturbing picture emerges, and she realizes the widow Roberta Garrick is not what she seems . . .
Three very different women come together to complete an environmental survey. Three women who, in some way or another, know the meaning of betrayal... For team leader Rachael Lambert the project is the perfect opportunity to rebuild her confidence after a double-betrayal by her lover and boss, Peter Kemp. Botanist Anne Preece, on the other hand, sees it as a chance to indulge in a little deception of her own. And then there is Grace Fulwell, a strange, uncommunicative young woman with plenty of her own secrets to hide...
When Rachael arrives at the cottage, however, she is horrified to discover the body of her friend Bella Furness. Bella, it appears, has committed suicide—a verdict Rachael finds impossible to accept.
Only when the next death occurs does a fourth woman enter the picture—the unconventional Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope, who must piece together the truth from these women’s tangled lives…
Being on the Murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to breaking point.
Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blonde, pretty, groomed to a shine, and dead in her catalogue-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her - except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before.
And that her death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette’s road. Aislinn’s friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her farther from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be.
Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?