The Barrancourt destiny is to bear twins and have the second-born murder the heir in order to grab the medieval vasty pile of Alconleigh. Over the centuries, each murder is invariably preceded by storks nesting on the castle roof. The most recent batch of storks are noticed by American Victoria Brown, who hires on as companion to old Lord de Childs in order to trace her parentage (for all she knows, the storks brought her) and its connection with the castle. When she bumps into the Chinese ghost in the boarded-up wing and finds he is smuggling heroin for unsavory heir Hugo, the plot thickens, especially since Hugo is having it on with his young stepmom. Fortunately, Louis Barrancourt, dark, arrogant, and irresistible, is there to rescue Victoria from the resulting pea-soup, though even he cannot clarify a plot which, while charming, is so thick with hereditary curses, precognitions incest, rape, murders past and present, mad aunties, disbarred doctors, and Saigon kidnappings as to be ineluctably opaque.