A search for a missing Chicago teen ends in a mysterious Wisconsin convent.
Writer Emerson Ward (A Forever Death, 2001, etc.) is nearly killed by the frenzied father of Ellen Forrester, a young girl he found drunk on the beach a year ago. When she vanishes, her father suspects Emerson, but her mother asks his help in finding her. Emerson, who’s just learned that his girlfriend Nell is pregnant, wants to support her in whatever she decides to do. After their visit to a clinic during a violent anti-abortion demonstration moves Nell to keep the baby, Emerson overcomes his fear of commitment enough to ask Nell to marry him, but she’s not sure he’s mature enough to be a good father. Deeply depressed by the news of Ellen’s death and Nell’s uncertainty about him, Emerson assumes the guise of a long-dead friend of the Forresters and heads for the Wisconsin town where Ellen’s body was found. Certain that she must have gone there for help, he gets a job in a nearby convent where the nuns take in unwed mothers whose babies they place. His investigation of the sisters’ untoward activities and their late-night visitors almost gets him killed before he unravels a bizarre scheme.
Emerson’s self-indulgent behavior can be exasperating. Maybe the birth of his child will help him grow up in time for the next installment.