Short of work, rejected by the man she craves, spurned by her mother, Jess Hurly is a wreck when Sarah Fortune comes across her in the semi-darkness of a cold London morning. Sarah - lawyer, professional mistress and stalwart friend - recognises her despair and her vulnerability, and knows all too well what damage those emotions can wreak. Jess believes her life can be put right if she could only go home to the village where she grew up, but she is unsure whether she would be welcomed or be rejected again. Sarah ventures to the small community tucked between the Downs and the sea, not only to test the waters for her friend, but to satisfy her own curiosity and unravel the true reason why Jess was forced to leave. She finds a place of insularity and tolerance, both wary and welcoming of her arrival, but Sarah quickly discerns that the dominance of the Hurly family commands silence from those reliant on them. Then Jess falls silent, her number unavailable, her presence missing, and Sarah's increasingly desperate search for her takes her into places that are even colder than the grave.