Two cataclysmic events have shaped the character of a small Missouri town: first, the unsolved murder of an 11-year-old girl- and second, the damming up of Cramer Creek. The murder of the young girl was committed eight years ago and had nearly escaped the townas memory until murder inconceivably occurred again. This time, a lonely and disfigured middle-aged woman was the victim. Although the murders were shocking, the damming of the townas namesake, Cramer Creek, was interminably worse because the Corp of Engineers had left the irate citizens only a dry creek bank, and, as an afterthought, an inconsequential pond.
In time, the ignoble pond begins to mirror the surface placidity of the tiny town, as well as its subterfuge of hidden life. As clump by clump of slimy refuse rises to the surface of the water, evil by evil is exposed in the picture-perfect town. Aunt Lucy, the ancient school principal, was never a patsy in or out of the classroom. Experience had taught her guilt often lurks beneath a seemingly innocent exterior. As she collaborates with young Sheriff Gilmore, jealousy, lies, perversion, rape, poisonous gossip, and a third murder are uncovered during the search for the killer.