Gregory Barrett, a classmate of Father Dowling’s, left the priesthood twenty-five years ago. Now, after all these years, a woman threatens to bring a multimillion-dollar suit against him, alleging he sexually exploited her when he was still a priest and she was sixteen. Barrett has no memory of her, but is devastated at what these claims will do to his career as a radio host and to his new family. So he comes to Father Dowling for advice. Father Dowling, a parish priest in Fox River, Illinois, as usual, serves as part counselor, part sounding board, and part moral compass for priests and parishioners alike---not to mention cops and lawyers---and offers help to both Barrett and his accuser.
Before Barrett can decide what to do, and before the now-adult woman has made her demands known to the archdiocese, a body washes up on the shore of Lake Michigan, and Barrett becomes the primary suspect in the murder.
Also in the mix in this astutely drawn mystery are a failed writer, a parish busybody, an inept lawyer, and an embittered young man, each with his or her own agenda, and it is up to Father Dowling to unravel the links between these people whose lives were separated long ago, only to reconnect in tragedy.