Struggling D.C.-based freelance writer Laurel Hunter drives to North Carolina to research an upbeat magazine article on a new storytelling festival. She’s looking forward to a pleasant assignment and a few relaxed days researching family history.
Laurel’s light story darkens quickly. Two festival stars’ long feud explodes after they tell the same “family” story. She goes to interview one of them and finds her body.
Laurel’s assignment is cancelled, but she uses it as cover for researching a true-crime story. The chief witnesses, and suspects, include the storytellers: the dead woman’s young and ambitious rival, a specialist in down-home stories; a black woman renowned for combining classic tales and urban settings; a Hispanic lawyer beginning her career in storytelling; a history teacher going pro as a Cherokee storyteller.
Separating fact from fiction seems Laurel’s biggest challenge, until a storyteller tries to silence the writer.