Cambridge is sweltering, during an unusually hot summer. To Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, the world consists of one accounting sheet - Lost on the left, Found on the right - and the two never seem to balance. His days are full of people clamouring for answers and explanations. A jealous husband suspects his wife. Two spinster sisters make a shocking find. A solicitor investigates an old murder. A nurse has lost her niece; a widow, her cats. Jackson has never felt at home in Cambridge, and has a failed marriage to prove it. He is forty-five but feels much, much older. He is at that dangerous age when men suddenly notice that they're going to die eventually, inevitably, and there isn't a damn thing they can do about it. Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life is brought sharply into focus.