Crystal Sands Marshall is furious. The local historical society has chosen another family as the subject for a book on the town's beginnings. Crystal hires her own writer and then sets off to collect the necessary family records from her eccentric sister, Iris.
When Iris, who has not left the house since their mother's death five years ago, fails to answer the door, Crystal breaks in. She finds Iris unconscious on the kitchen floor. Fearing her sister has attempted suicide, Crystal delays the sheriff's investigation until she can search the house and dispose of anything that might set local tongues wagging. She discovers Iris's diaries and learns her mother committed murder to protect the family name. As increasingly horrible secrets are revealed, Crystal is faced with the same choice: public ruin or murder. Is this a case of like mother, like daughter?