Since the murder of his eight-year-old son, George Gates has written local stories for the town paper. A former travel writer, once he specialized in writing about places where people disappeared, sometimes individuals, sometimes whole societies. Since the tragedy, he plays it small and safe. Then he hears about Katherine Carr, a woman who vanished twenty years before. She left nothing behind but a few poems and a bizarre story. It is this story that spurs Gates to inquire into its missing author's brief life and dire fate, an exploration that leads him to discoveries about life and death, mystery and resolution.