Q

uirke, a pathologist in 1950s Dublin, is perturbed when his strait-laced adoptive brother Malachy, an obstetrician, appears to be tampering with evidence relating to the recently deceased Christine Falls. Officially she died of an embolism but Malachy admits that she died giving birth to a still-born child and evidence was changed to spare her reputation. Soon afterwards Dolly Moran, a friend of Christine who told Quirke she has information about the baby's father is murdered and a child brought from Ireland to Boston, Massachusetts, is adopted by Claire and Andy Stafford. Quirke discovers that Dolly was part of a chain who took illegitimate children to America and is savagely beaten up for his pains. At the request of Malachy's wife Sarah Quirke takes her wayward daughter Phoebe to Boston to stay with her grandfather, dying Irish industrialist Josh Crawford and here he learns that Josh is instrumental in bringing illegitimate Irish babies to America. When Josh dies Sarah, Malachy and Quirke's adoptive father Garret, a judge, attend the funeral, where Quirke finally uncovers the truth about Christine's baby as well as having to admit to Phoebe another family secret.

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