Forty-two-year-old Steve Levitan has lost everything that matters to him: his marriage, his home, and his career. After finishing a brief prison term for computer hacking, he returns to his home town of Stewart's Crossing, PA, with his tail between his legs.
With his parole officer peering over his shoulder, Steve begins a technical writing business and takes a part-time job as an adjunct professor of English at his alma mater Eastern College. He reconnects with an old friend - the local police detective - hangs out at a coffee shop, and enjoys the natural beauty of Bucks County and the stimulating college environment.
Starting over helps him numb the pain of all he's lost, including the two unborn children his ex-wife miscarried before their divorce. The last thing he needs in his life is a shaggy, bossy golden retriever. But when his next-door neighbor Caroline Kelly is murdered, Steve becomes her dog's temporary guardian.
Rochester seems determined to solve the mystery of Caroline's death, digging up clues and pushing Steve to investigate. As they nose through Caroline's past, her friends, and her career searching for motives, the bond between man and dog grows.
But it's only when Steve uncovers a connection between Caroline's death and some uncomfortable situations between his students and his colleagues that Steve realizes that in order to save his own life, and the life of the dog he's come to love, he's going to have to come face-to-face with a killer with nothing left to lose.