She is the author of six novels, including the Sara Selkirk series, and the Silver Dagger winning Half Broken Things. She began writing in 1996 after a short story of hers was runner-up in a national competition sponsored by Good Housekeeping magazine. A visit to the Roman Baths with crime writer P.D. James germinated the plot of her first novel, Funeral Music, the first in the Sara Selkirk series, which gained a Dilys Award nomination for the year's best mystery published in the USA.
Her later novels have moved increasingly towards literary fiction. In 2008 she was a Heinrich Böll writer in residence on Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland.
Half Broken Things was adapted as a television film in 2007, starring Penelope Wilton.
In 2009 her sixth novel, The Night Following won a coveted Edgar Award nomination in the Best Novel category.