Three muffled thuds ring from the partially filled grave of the newly wed girl.
Only the verger hears them and he dismisses the noise as his imagination. But over the next few days others also hear faint sounds.
An exhumation order is granted. Reporter Kate Hemingway sneaks into the small suburban churchyard when the coffin is opened, and the scene she witnesses is so horrific she can never forget it. As she starts work on the story, Kate finds herself caught up in a sinister and macabre cover-up.
At the centre is a respected anaesthetist who has a secret obsession. He believes people can exist outside their bodies and that if he can prove it he will provide the answer to the question that has haunted mankind through the ages: is there life after death?
Nothing - and no one - is going to stand in the way of his driving ambition . . .
'Peter James is one of the best crime writers in the business.' Karin Slaughter
'Well-researched, chillingly executed and eminently readable.' Sunday Times
Read more from the multi-million copy bestselling author of the Roy Grace novels:
* Each Peter James novel can be read as a standalone*
British author James returns to the mysteries of life after death with better success than he achieved in Possession. When a Sussex newspaper assigns Kate Hemingway to report on the noises that seem to be coming from the grave of a newly buried woman, she finagles access to a private exhumation--where it emerges that the woman had been buried alive. Meanwhile, James unfolds another story, set 20 years earlier: Harvey Swire, a pudgy, unpleasant schoolboy, has a near-death experience following a cycling accident; subsequently he undergoes frequent out-of-body episodes and develops an unhealthy fascination with the afterlife. The two plots are paced expertly, so that Kate's investigation into a hasty cover-up lands her afoul of the sinister Swire, now a prominent anesthesiologist. The two collide in a gripping climax, with a highly satisfying twist at the end. Characters are boldly drawn, and Kate proves an exceptionally likable heroine. James's attention to detail lends substance to what might seem a far-fetched plot--his research into near-death experiences and modern medical practices make this a convincing, sophisticated thriller with a suitably spine-tingling supernatural twist.