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When road construction by West Virginia’s highway department uncovers human remains near the small town of Barkley, everyone involved stops dead in their tracks. Everyone, including Owen Allison, whose mother calls him home right away on a trumped-up excuse, seems to have a theory on the skeleton’s identity. But when another dead body is discovered–this one a lot fresher–the simple forensic investigation turns into something much deeper.
And it all seems to begin and end with the Allisons. Thirty-five years ago, Owen’s father, West Virginia highway commissioner Wayne Allison, disappeared, thought to have drowned when a burst dam flooded the town. Owen’s mother is convinced the skeleton is her husband’s. But that’s not all of the trouble on the Allison home front. Now Owen’s troubled older brother George is highway commissioner, and he’s facing problems both personal and professional, from his political appointee boss to a team of environmental activists determined to stop local highway expansion. Owen must piece together the mysteries in Barkley’s past – as well as those in his own family history – and uncover the truth before he becomes the next victim.