Chris is spending a week alone on deserted Fowlers Island, despite rumors that it is haunted, just to prove he can. Once there he meets Joellen, whose father is studying the puffins that have been reintroduced to the island. Together they work to solve the mystery of the ghostly sightings; a journal they find shows that Chris's ancestors may have been involved in murder. More than half the book passes before the story gets underway; then it simply disintegrates into a disorienting number of plot elements that are taken up, halfway pieced together, then abandoned to the musings of the protagonists. It's an ambitious undertaking: Levin (Gift Horse, 1996, etc.) brings together a tremendous amount of history and information about the environment, and further deals with Joellen's discomfort over her father's young girlfriend and Chris's painfully passive approach to his grandfather's past sorrows. But by the end, even tenacious readers won't know if there was a ghost, if Joellen somehow controlled events through her writings, or if she was just the victim of uncanny coincidences.