Nadianna Jesup, a pregnant young photographer from rural Georgia, is visiting Mayley, a village in Yorkshire, England, on an arts grant when she discovers a burned corpse floating in a river. No one, including historian Gale Grayson, Nadianna's companion on the trip, believes her, except for a local religious group that thinks she has witnessed a vision from God. Strange events surrounding the old mill that Nadianna and Gale are documenting bring to light tensions among some of the colorful inhabitants of the town, including Chalice Hibbert, a six-foot-seven mute, her employer, potter Olivia Markham, and Gerald Thornsby, a thief-turned-preacher who opposes Olivia's efforts to turn the abandoned mill into an artist's mall. In this, her latest mystery featuring Gale Grayson, Holbrook (The Grass Widow) intersperses her contemporary tale with excerpts from the tragic diary of a Luddite named Michael Dodd. This psychological mystery, although hampered at times by clich s about Americans abroad, succeeds in evoking the bleakness of the depressed mill town and in portraying the family bonds that drive the characters to acts of desperation.
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