This novel takes place in the river valley town of Yuneetah, Tennessee in 1936, as a young couple faces three days of terror when their three-year-old daughter, Gracie, disappears. The Tennessee Valley Authority has completed their dam project and is about to flood the valley as the Long Man river rises, drowning the many caves and farmland. Time is running out to find Gracie. Two reclusive women, the town sheriff, and a government man round out those left behind in the town to aid in the search. The day before she went missing, a vengeful, disfigured man had returned to his former town and becomes a suspect in kidnapping or killing the little girl. Each of these people’s lives are interconnected, either through youthful romance or being related by blood, which deepens the mystery. What lengths will each of them go to find Gracie while protecting those they love who might be connected to her disappearance? Will she be found dead or alive?
Everyone’s loss and fear for this little girl serves as the springboard for a bigger story. Amy Greene captures the regional rural folk authentically by showing their mistrust of the government. Her characters play out wonderfully; they are both edgy and simple in their needs and education, not wanting the modern changes that the dam would offer them. I found it interesting that not all families accepted the buyout and relocation option; although the dam would create the energy needed to bring electricity into the area, progress would uproot those farmers from homes and land that they had held for generations and clung onto during the Depression. This is a very human story.