Jolie Gentil moves to Great Aunt Madge's bed and breakfast at the Jersey shore, taking her cat Jazz, and joining Madge's pair of prune-eating dogs. Jolie does not view this as a retreat from her embezzling ex-husband, just a smart change. She had no idea her life was about to get even more complicated. Jolie finds work as a real estate appraiser, but a low-life named Joe Pedone demands that she repay some of her husband's gambling debts and she runs into Michael Riordan, her high school crush. She's not sure which one is more trouble. Jolie appraises Michael's mother's house and finds his mother dead in bed. Soon the mundane work of appraising real estate and dodging suggestions that she go to the ten-year high school reunion are mixed with calls from reporters, scary suggestions from Pedone, and requests that she help the local busybody with First Presbyterian's social services work.
Jolie balances her fear of Pedone, conviction that Michael is innocent, and sometimes uneasy friendship with long-ago friend Scoobie. Jolie plots ways to prove both friends innocent, but someone would rather see her dead.