Fiona's great-grandfather, Frederick Crouch, died in the First World War under mysterious circumstances. The family story is that Frederick failed to duck down when shells began falling nearby, despite the fact everyone else around him dived for cover. A letter, written by Frederick's widow to her son's school soon after the war, reveals the sad truth behind the story.
Another family story about Frederick is that he joined the army to escape his parents. Hoping to understand the reasons, Fiona investigates the life of Frederick's father, seemingly a highly-respected Victorian photographer. It soon becomes clear that all is not as it first appears with William Crouch, who emerges as a larger-than-life rogue and star of a celebrated court case.
Fiona next returns to the home of the Bruce family, the small Scottish fishing village of Hopeman, where her family eked out a living for generations. Documents she uncovers in the local library reveal that some of the hardships her family faced were at least a little self-inflicted
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