Pocono Mountains, June, 1966
Augusta McKee, amateur sleuth, professor of music, and former opera singer, is invited to perform in the musical Carousel at the Pocono Playhouse in Northeastern Pennsylvania. With the encouragement of her husband, Cincinnati P.D. Homicide Detective Malcolm Mitchell, she accepts this chance to be on a stage again, in an area where she spent happy summers as a child experiencing the beauty of the mountains and the Delaware Water Gap.
Two nights after the show opens, a woman’s body is found in the theater’s parking lot. An old beau of Augusta’s, Evan Llewellyn, who plays the male lead in the show, is the prime—in fact, the only—suspect in the murder. Because the victim was from Cincinnati, Malcolm becomes involved in the case and joins Augusta in the Poconos.
Llewellyn’s past as the child of coal miners in the nearby Anthracite Region of Pennsylvania emerges as an essential element in the case. While searching for clues to the murder, Augusta and Malcolm learn of past and present destruction created by mining and witness firsthand the devastation caused by the Carbondale underground mine fire.
As the puzzle pieces of the case fall into place, Augusta finds herself in a harrowing, life-threatening confrontation with the killer—at a remote, long-abandoned coal mine.