For E. Robert Pendleton, a professor clinging to tenure and living in the shambles of his once-bright literary career, death seems to be the only remaining option. But his suicide attempt fails, and during his long convalescence, a novel is discovered hidden in his basement - a brilliant, semi-autobiographical story with a gruesome child murder at its core. The publication of 'Scream' causes a storm of publicity and raises questions about its content - in particular, about the uncanny resemblance between Pendleton's fictional crime and a real-life, unresolved local murder. How did Pendleton know the case so well? And why did he bury 'Scream' in his basement?