In the Pathology Department it was always night. This was one of the things Quirke liked about his job . . . it was restful, cosy, one might almost say, down in these depths nearly two floors beneath the city's busy pavements. There was too a sense here of being part of the continuance of ancient practices, secret skills, of work too dark to be carried on up in the light.
But one night, late after a party, Quirke stumbles across a body that shouldn't have been there . . . and his brother-in-law, eminent paediatrician Malachy Griffin - a rare sight in Quirke's gloomy domain - altering a file to cover up the corpse's cause of death.
It is the first time Quirke encounters Christine Falls, but the investigation he decides to lead into the way she lived - and the reason she died - disturbs a dark secret that has been festering at the core of Dublin's high Catholic society, a secret ready to destablize the very heart and soul of Quirke's own family . . .