Laurel Beach is one of the last old-fashioned villages in the West Florida panhandle, one that has, so far, escaped commercial over-development. It presents both a haven and opportunity, and, this summer, it plays host to a varied cast. Grief has nearly destroyed Hudson DeForest. He’s barely been going through the motions, teaching in a Memphis girls school, writing about film, talking to the dog. He’s hanging on by a thread. It’s been two years since Kate died, two years of grappling with profound loss, with the impact of the marriage of a lifetime cut short. Hudson’s friend Charlie Brompton, the successful developer and restaurateur, is facing a different loss. He’s growing old. It’s time for him to let go of his most beloved enterprise, the mecca of fine dining known as the 26-A after the panhandle highway where it sits. And of its funky adjunct, The Blue Bar. With no immediate family as heirs, Charlie’s considering his choice of successors. And what he should do for his godson, Chaz? He also wonders if Hudson will return to Laurel Beach, to the cottage he occupied with Kate. Will Hudson ever forgive him? Meanwhile Chaz has met Sydney, a former actress. They’re living well in Atlanta, thinking about marriage. Thinking, too, that perhaps they should go to Laurel Beach, touch base with Charlie.... As Hudson settles in and doggedly takes up his summer project—he has a book contract for a collection of his film reviews—the undying past and a present struggling to be born exert their fierce, and sometimes indistinguishable, claims. So it is for Charlie, and for Sydney and Chaz. Gradually a bizarre maelstrom of deceit, betrayal, and murder evolves in Laurel Beach, ensnaring the wealthy and the beautiful, the misguided and the desperate. Will its force fill Hudson with newfound determination to celebrate life—or will it destroy those he still holds dear?