An undertaker-in-training trying to put an accident at the town’s crossroads behind her is drawn back into the trauma when the bodies go missing from her new family’s mortuary.
When Geoffrey Bouton, her new husband, abandons the former Melisende Dulac during their Paris honeymoon, Melisende is more resigned than brokenhearted. Raised by a couple who seemed to be parents by chance rather than choice, Melisende hasn’t had much connection to family since her brother died rescuing her from a lake when the two were children. So it’s a real surprise when Geoffrey’s Aunt Elodie telephones Melisende from out of the blue to offer her a place to live and a job at the family funeral business in Barlow County, outside of Portland, Oregon. Without a qualm about saying goodbye to her East Coast home, Melisende meets her new Aunt Elodie and her husband, a warm man Melisende eventually feels comfortable calling Uncle Rémy. Melisende will always be an outsider in town, but she feels comfortable enough until the day she’s driving to work and is stopped by a grisly accident and fire. Though she’s used to a high body count at her job, Melisende is so spooked by the scene that she barely realizes there’s a baby, still alive, wrapped in a sweatshirt on the fringe of the mayhem. Cameron’s first novel under this name (he's written others as Bill Cameron, including Property of the State, 2016, etc.) shows Melisende trying to stay out of trouble when the bodies go missing from the family’s mortuary, when it seems as if someone’s trying to pin something on her even though there’s no crime.
A richly drawn background contextualizes the mystery’s melancholy, with bursts of humor emerging like sun through clouds.