As a toddler, in a room illuminated only by the flames of a fallen candle, Jacobia Tiptree watched a man kill her mother. Jake once believed that man to be her father. Now, thirty-five years later, as the real killer's long-delayed trial is about to begin, the defendant has vanished. Jake tries to distract herself from murder with constant attempts to keep her 1823 Federal-style fixer-upper from tumbling down on her head. But when her best friend's infant daughter suddenly goes missing, Jake feels her dark past wrapping itself around her.