In 1957, in a small town in America â€“ where life can sometimes be prejudiced and even a little judgemental â€“ Pearl Fisher is raped and as a result, she has a baby. The good people of Stirville, unaware of her circumstances, are indulging in a hearty bout of malevolent gossip, the full force of which is interrupted by the unsatisfying announcement of Pearl's death.For the young Tom Carter, Pearl had been someone to protect. For his friend William Kendall, Pearl had been the luminescence of the county, a desirable prize for any young man. For the coroner Paul Beddows, accustomed to the sophistication and indulgences of the city, Pearl Fisher's death is a tedious, parochial bore.But, for the self-righteous bigots of Stirville, the inquest is a splendid occasion to dress up and rejoice, an opportunity to justify their persecution and denunciation of the wicked young girl. Tom Carter squeezes himself into the packed courtroom with only one question in his mind: who in this community killed Pearl Fisher?
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