'If a black dog appears along the old corpse way, the route a funeral procession takes to the churchyard, it is thought to be escorting the dead soul to the afterlife. A black dog sighting without a funeral procession, however, is supposed to foreshadow death.'
For Doctor Dody McCleland, the unearthing of an ancient skeleton in a dry riverbed is a welcome break from the monotony of chaperoning her younger sister at a country house near the isolated hamlet of Piltdown. But when she begins her analysis of the bones, Britain's first female autopsy surgeon discovers they are much more recent - and they are the result of murder.
With Chief Inspector Matthew Pike's help Dody begins to investigate. Soon she finds herself pitted against ugly traditionalism, exploitation, spectral dogs, a ghostly hunt and a series of events that not only threaten her belief in scientific rationalism, but threaten her life itself.