In Niceville, a pleasant Southern town where evil lurks just beneath the surface, two back-to-back airplane crashes set off a spellbinding chain reaction of murder, inadvertent kidnapping, and double-dealing.
Detective Nick Kavanaugh must balance his investigation into the accidents with family concerns and a long-buried mystery. He and his wife Kate, a family lawyer, have taken in Kate’s sister and her two children, escaping their abusive father Byron Deitz. The Kavanaughs are also caring for the orphaned Rainey Teague, who recently survived a strange kidnapping and has come back a very different child. Rainey was not the last person to vanish from a Niceville street; most recently, an administrator from Rainey’s school, and—even worse—Kate’s father, a local historian, have gone missing. Using her father’s files, Kate and Nick start to unearth their town’s bloodstained past, trying to discover the truth behind generations of disappearances. But a sinister someone—or something—stands in their way.
A focused story makes for a smoother route to the small Southern town of Niceville in Stroud's superior sequel to 2012's convoluted Niceville. Nick Kavanaugh, a former Special Forces soldier now a tough county cop, and his lawyer wife, Kate, have become the guardians of 10-year-old Rainey Teague, a key player in the previous book. On a good day, Rainey is a handful, but he appears to be changing into the epitome of his evil ancestors. The answer to why this is so may lie in the gilt mirror hidden in the Kavanaughs' closet. Meanwhile, the investigation of an armored-car heist during which four officers were murdered brings more violence to Niceville, including the accidental killing of a mobster and his grandson during a police shootout with an escaped prisoner. Elements such as an ancient ghost story, a nearby sinkhole that Native Americans consider a bad place, homicidal criminals, and the soul of one little boy meld into a rich, realistic supernatural thriller.