"On an August day, spurred on by his young friends, a boy takes aim at a rook with his newly crafted catapult. An impossible shot, but one that reaches its target. The boys watch in awe as the shot strikes home and the black bird falls from the branch. For the first time, death creeps into William Bellman's life. Over the oak tree, rooks begin to gather, arriving from all directions to congregate on its branches and stare at the boy. Will races home and tries desperately to forget the disturbing experience.
A man, lost in beareavement, weighed down by tragedy and in a drunken fog, encounters in a graveyard a figure dressed in black. Not a mourner, something quite different , something perhaps not even real. They converse and an extraordinary bargain is struck.
In London, a curious shop opens its doors - the first mourning emporium for the capital of an empire, providing everything from coffins to umbrellas. The bereaved flock to Bellman & Black, death after all never goes out of fashion. And William Bellman believes the past can finally be forgotten.
Rooks, however, don't forget."