On a spring morning in 1925 Sunny Palmer disappears from her baby carriage in Picardys restaurant in downtown Winnipeg. It happens in seconds when big sister Violet and her mother wander up to choose their treats from the dessert display. As those first minutes turn to days, months, then years, the Palmer family collapses and gradually glues itself back together in a new form. The Dirty Thirties are in full swing: on a hot summer day in June of 1936 two drifters looking for work turn up in the Palmers back yard. They are among the legions of men criss-crossing the country looking for work. Violets father, Will Palmer, a local attorney with few construction skills, invites the men to pitch their tent and stay on to build a garage for his new Buick. But hes on his guard. One of the men, Jackson Shirt, seems a little too well-educated and much too handsome to ring entirely true. Hes just Violets age, seventeen, but Will senses he has more than his share of secrets. A wayfaring friend of the drifters drops by occasionally to watch them work. If anything blameworthy occurs in the neighbourhoodtheft, noise, even illnessthese three outsiders come under close scrutiny. When polio strikes that August, suspicion turns to savagery. And Jackson Shirts secrets are revealed. The story takes place in the Norwood Flats section of Winnipeg, the same setting as Prestons previous novels. This time, though, the action is mostly in the Depression year of 1936 and we meet Fraser Foote, the father of Frank, who has played a part in previous books.