Kate Fansler, literary professor, feminist and occasional amateur sleuth has retreated to her secluded cottage. When her eccentric friend Maximillian Reston appears and proposes that she drive him to the home of a recently deceased family friend, she can't resist the opportunity to learn more about of one of her literary heroes, Cecily Hutchins.
But what starts as a light-hearted trip to the coast of Maine ends with Kate discovering a body on the rocky shore. Having identified the dead girl as one of her students the death is later ruled an unfortunate accident but ever curious, Kate sets out to answer her own questions: can her own presence at the scene just be a coincidence? And how much can she really trust Max?