After five years, lawyer Hugh Gwynne’s most difficult case has finally come to court. His client Tom Deacon is claiming damages for post-traumatic stress after a car accident in which he witnessed the death of his young daughter by fire. The case is going well, it seems certain Tom will win the compensation that will enable him to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. Then Hugh receives an anonymous letter that throws him into an impossible dilemma. To stay on the case is unethical, to withdraw will threaten its success, and Tom Deacon, revealing himself in an entirely new light, makes it clear that such treachery will not be forgiven.
For Hugh the dilemma is intensified by the contrast between their lives: Tom tormented by flashbacks, jobless, with a broken marriage and two children he hardly sees; Hugh with what he regards as a blessed existence, a rewarding life as a jobbing solicitor and an intensely happy marriage to Lizzie, with whom he has two adopted children, Lou away on her gap year, and fragile, sensitive Charlie who seems to have overcome his personal demons.
Then one night Hugh’s life changes for ever. His happiness is snatched away, and he, like Tom, must face a lifetime of troubling memories.