A 19th-century fairy-tale wedding turns into a funeral on a remote Georgia island.
For Eleanor Dickson and Teddy Bennett, their upcoming nuptials on Bradford Island are all about true love. But Prudence MacKenzie, Eleanor’s best friend, knows that it’s also a coldhearted business deal between the bride's and groom’s fathers. Dickson has bought the island from the impoverished Bennett as a summer retreat but allowed him to keep his ancestral home, once the center of a thriving plantation. Because the Civil War left Bennett and his family little but their gracious old house, their “people” as servants, and their social status, Bennett’s older son and heir has become engaged to the daughter of a Yankee businessman. Shortly after they arrive at the island for the wedding, Eleanor confesses to Prudence that she feels eyes watching her from the moss-hung live oaks, pine forests, and swampland. When Eleanor goes missing, Prudence, every inch the modern woman, insists on joining the hunt for her along with Geoffrey Hunter, her partner in Hunter and MacKenzie, Investigative Law. Their professional services become sadly relevant when Teddy’s younger brother discovers Eleanor’s body drowned in the swamp. In laying out Eleanor in preparation for burial in her silk and Valenciennes lace wedding gown, Prudence finds bruises and a dislocated shoulder indicating that someone held Eleanor underwater. Over her body, Prudence and Geoffrey, an ex–Pinkerton agent and a son of the South himself, vow to find her killer. The warnings of Aunt Jessa, a conjure woman who was once Teddy’s mammy, as well as an attempt on Prudence’s own life and the startling appearance of a young servant named Minda lead Prudence into a family history as tangled as the swamp that claimed Eleanor’s life in Simpson’s fourth Gilded Age mystery (Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets, 2018, etc.).
Packed with suspense, romance, voodoo, class and racial issues, and intimations of the war that didn’t end at Appomattox.