Twenty-eight-year-old Cass Bauer has been holding vigil at her fiancé’s gravesite for a month, the shock of his death racking her with anger and guilt. A second death—that of her distant and barely known Great Aunt Martha—draws Cass to historic Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where her ancestors’ grand nineteenth-century estate of River Walk ages on a secluded hill overlooking the Potomac River. Eccentric locals enlighten Cass about the storied Bauer family, especially Miss Martha—a vibrant, loving woman, a philanthropist, and the grand dame of Shepherdstown. But just as the nomadic Cass begins to find roots and a new sense of self-worth among the dim corridors and silent gardens of River Walk, ghastly visions of her dead fiancé threaten her sanity.
One man senses Cass’s increasingly fragile state. Attractive, reserved Sam Eddinger was Aunt Martha’s handyman. While Sam patches River Walk’s aging roof, Cass forms a strange bond with him—perhaps because he conceals his own murky past. Locals blame Sam for the tragic car accident that killed Melanie, a beloved young woman from town. Sam’s brother Mitch was supposedly in the car with Melanie, but he disappeared that night, and his body has never been found. Why was Martha the only person in town to defend and stay loyal to Sam? When a violent storm lashes River Walk, Cass finally confronts the guilt of her own past, unaware that down by the river, a long-buried secret is being unearthed. The discovery of skeletal remains rattles Martha’s pedestal and pits Cass against the small town as she struggles to preserve her family’s legacy, save a potential future with Sam, and resolve her own quest for absolution.