What happened to Lonnie Armstrong and Clifford St. Alder?
Madeline Donovan has just completed her case at Belle Magnolia in New Orleans and seeks a respite from her adventures as an aspiring female sleuth. When Emily Montgomery extends to Madeline an invitation to her home in St. Augustine, she happily accepts. But even on the train ride, Emily tells her of the mysterious disappearance of two men and their relationship to the city's notorious woman, Emma St. Fleur. The affluent Miss Emma is known not only for her beauty but also her precocious nature, which taunts all the eligible males in town. However, now the city is hovering over her for a different reason: they want to know if she is in any way responsible for the disappearance of these men.
Madeline is intrigued and soon finds herself, along with the bewitchingly handsome Oliver Mandrake, setting off to investigate. The city of people is reluctant to tell her any plain truth and wonders what secrets could be so omnipotent that they are shared by so many and what it all means. Soon she will discover such strange events that even her reporter friend, Jonathan Franks, from the New York Times, will find the story newsworthy and shocking.