In the small Hampshire village of Sowerbridge, Irish labourer Patrick O'Riordan has been arrested for the brutal murder of elderly Lavinia Fanshaw and her live-in nurse, Dorothy Jenkins. As shock turns to fury, the village residents form a united front against Patrick's parents and cousin, who report incidents of vicious threats and violence. But friend and neighbour Siobhan Lavenham remains convinced that Patrick has fallen victim to a prejudiced investigation and, putting her own position within the bigoted community in serious jeopardy, stands firmly by his family in defence of the O'Riordan name.
Days before the trial, terrible secrets about the O'Riordans' past are revealed to Siobhan, and the family's only supporter is forced to question her loyalties. Could Patrick be capable of murder after all? Could his parents' tales of attacks be devious fabrications? And if so, what other lies lurk beneath the surface of their world? As the truth rapidly unfurls, it seems that Sowerbridge residents need to be very afraid. For beneath a cunning façade, someone's chilling ambition is about to ignite.