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Devastated by the senseless murder of his wife, Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley retreated to Cornwall, where he has spent six solitary weeks hiking the bleak and rugged coastline. But no matter how far he walks, the painful memories do not diminish. Then, at the base of a cliff near a town better known for its surfing than its intrigue, Lynley discovers the body of a young man who has fallen to his death. First a witness, then a suspect when the hand of a killer is revealed, Lynley remains, above all, a policeman willing to aid the gruff head of an understaffed local constabulary in her investigation. But the secrets in this community run dark and deepand Lynley must somehow find a way to let go of the past long enough to solve a most devious and dreadful crime.