Who is the very quiet woman with the very quiet baby in the very noisy Accident and Emergency department of the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital?
It’s a January night, snowy and slippery, exactly the kind of night calculated to boost the accident rate and strain an Accident and Emergency department beyond its capacity. No wonder everyone’s ignoring the woman who sits so unobtrusively, looking so ordinary, seeming so attended to. On a night like this, that woman is guaranteed to be bypassed, as she is until finally frenzy settles into comparative calm, and staff Nurse Lucy Ramshaw has a chance to think seriously about her. Her name is Alice Sedgewick, and she’s middle-aged, decently dressed and well-spoken. The baby she’s holding remains quiet as death because it is indeed dead and has been for at least five years. Does Mrs. Sedgewick know her baby is dead? For that matter, is the baby Mrs. Sedgewick’s? And since the baby is clearly male, why does she insist on referring to him as Poppy? The obvious questions lead nowhere until Coroner Martha Gunn (Slip Knot, 2007, etc.) begins asking them. But even smart, sensitive, intuitive Martha won’t have an easy time with the sad, bad case of the baby so desperately wanted, except by those who didn’t want him at all.
The strong premise is weakened by pace-killing subplots imbued with the sensibility of a romance novel.