Gale Grayson has come back to Statlers Cross, Georgia, to write, hoping to find in her quiet hometown the strength to confront the memories and mysteries of her husband's life and death. But the delicate balance in the rural community has been altered by outsiders: a family of immigrants and a visiting professor who hopes to study the area's most isolated residents -- families with a dialect and rules of their own. In a place trapped between the present and the past, a shocking act of violence uncovers dark and dangerous truths about people whose roots go back for generations. The ties between the living and the dead are strong, and even the presence of visiting Scotland Yard detective Daniel Halford may not help unravel such a brutal crime. It falls to Gale, her grandmother Ella, and her precocious daughter, Katie Pru, to piece together a terrifying tapestry of history and hatred whose tangled threads weave a complicated tale of betrayal. Yet it is in the photographs of Gale's young protegee Nadianna Jesup that the truth may be found ... a truth that is sheer murder for anyone who stumbles across it.