Winslow, a remote mountain hamlet in the Pacific Northwest, is suddenly visited by an unknown plague.
Hazel Winslow is the daughter of the town sheriff and the niece of Pard Holloway, whose ranch does much to support the tiny town. Because her mother deserted her, Hazel has relationship problems, but she continues to be loyal to her lifelong friends Sean and Patience. The first sign of trouble comes when her uncle’s cattle sicken and die. Tourists continue to visit the local ghost town, the rodeo goes on and all the local hangouts are full, when suddenly people begin to get sick. Their illness is not just physical. The victims seem to be losing their minds, seeing ghosts and desperately searching for someone or something to blame. Hazel is one of the few in town to retain her sanity, but she’s frantic with worry for her father, who’s out in the woods hunting an imaginary creature, and for Sean, whose delusions may be based on guilt. Years earlier, the town had banished Hawkin Rhone to a tiny cabin, and Sean was forced to kill him when he attacked Hazel. Even after the cause of the madness is discovered, nothing can be done, since Pard is protecting his reputation by allowing no entry or exit to the town, leaving a battered, starving Hazel to protect her loved ones from the sins of the past and present.
Billed as a paranormal mystery, this overlong debut provides little mystery but plenty of thrills, chills and horrifying descriptions of suffering men, women and beasts.