A once beautiful woman in a little black dress, designer stiletto heels, and a long string of expensive pearls floats face down in a turbulent pool at the base of a local waterfall, her long auburn hair streaming in the current and her skull bashed in. Homicide Detective First Grade Grace McLeod, a Big City exile now living and working a small college town, knows one thing immediately: this is no suicide...not with those pearls. She recognizes Renata Durand, head of the University Development Office and the storied campus "it" girl. The victim also happens to live with the University Provost and together they were the most visible couple in town. As McLeod works her way through the list of suspects—the bitter ex-wife, a jealous co-worker, the lesbian friend suffering from unrequited love, the Provost, his emotionally distraught young daughter, a secret faculty lover—she also has to deal with her artist boyfriend Jack’s unexpectedly deserting her for a chance at fame and fortune down in the very same Big City. McLeod faces this loss in her usual way—chocolate and focusing on the job. But when she goes to arrest of the murderer, it all falls apart like a broken string of expensive pearls scattered over the water and sinking deep into the mud at the base Fall Creek.