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It's 1926 and Prohibition is the law of the land. Career girl Lacey Baldwin is teaching history at Fort Marsden College. But the town of Fort Marsden, Michigan has changed in the six years since she left for college. Her temperance reformer mother is deceased, as are both her brothers, victims of the Great War. Her cousin Michael is a police detective working for corrupt police chief Big Bill Burke. Ralph Shapiro, a man rumored to have connections with the infamous Purple Gang, has come to the small Central Michigan town, married to the wealthy Eloise Smythe, and has opened a speakeasy, Signature. Lacey's best friend Amanda Banfield, a wild young woman with more money than common sense, is a regular at Signature, and the womanizing Ralph Shapiro's latest mistress.
Things get even more crazy when good time girl Amanda persuades strait laced Lacey to come to Signature with her, as moral support as she tries to break up with her domineering lover. But when Amanda later leaves with Shapiro, Lacey realizes she was merely a pawn in one of Amanda's crazy schemes.
Hours later, Ralph Shapiro lies dead on a riverbank, three bullets in him, and Amanda is missing. The police believe that Amanda killed Shapiro, but Lacey has her doubts. When Amanda's sister Annadine pleads with Lacey to find out the truth, she reluctantly investigates assisted by Brendan Davies, a handsome anthropology professor.
As she tries to find out the truth about what happened on the river bank that night, Lacey is haunted by the, unsolved disappearance of her father many years ago. But there is a killer in Fort Marsden who doesn't want the truth to be known. Can Lacey unmask the murderer without losing her own life?