The beleaguered heroine, Jenny Cooper, is not in the best of shape. She has been recently divorced, and has suffered a nervous breakdown. But Jenny is hoping that her new job – Coroner for the Severn Vale -- will get her life back on an even keel. Living on a desperate diet of anti-depressants and downers, she finds herself involved in looking into something worrying: the deaths of several teenagers at local detention centres. Has her predecessor neglected some crucial information in this area? As Jenny digs deeper, she encounters a solid wall of bureaucratic resistance. But however screwed up her own life is, Jenny is not going to give up on the uphill task she’s set herself.
We have, of course, encountered the troubled, damaged protagonist before, many times – both in male and female form. But such is M R Hall’s skill that even in this over-familiar territory, cliché is kept firmly at bay. Hall has experience of the world of the coroner, and that gives the book (the first in a series) a pithy verisimilitude. But so compelling is the narrative voice in The Coroner, that readers will be keen to enter the messy, conflicted world of Jenny Cooper again. --Barry Forshaw
-- Jessica Mann, The Literary Review
'Big, well-executed debut novel...meaty characters and a chewy plot in the Lynda La Plante style'
-- Laura Wilson, The Guardian
'M R Hall has created a wonderful heroine in a genre we haven't seen before.'
-- Lynda La Plante