The 1953 death of Bertram Warren was ruled an accident, but Detective Jerry Keating believed Bertram was murdered by his young wife, Cora. He also believed that their daughter, ten-year-old Meghan, saw what happened. When Jerry tried to question the girl, her mother called the chief of police, and they told Jerry to back off.
Some sixty years later, Cora dies, and she leaves her house on the shore to her only living relative, a young woman named Mariah Kimball. Mariah has never heard of Cora Warren and refuses to believe it when she learns that Cora was her biological great-grandmother. After her mother confirms it's true, Mariah takes the news hard, but eventually chooses to accept Cora's bequest.
On her first day at the house, Mariah is startled to find that the former residents of the house - Kathleen, Meghan, and Cora Warren - randomly appear to relive critical moments in their lives. Through these vignettes Mariah comes to know her mother Kathleen, her grandmother Meghan, and her great-grandmother Cora.
Mariah is also visited by a mysterious detective who comes to her door asking for Meghan. Mariah explains that Meghan is dead and has been for thirty years, but the detective continues to show up every day looking for Meghan.
As Mariah tries to get her own life together, she also finds herself pulled into the Warren family drama. She discovers that Cora's caustic mothering drove Meghan to drugs and kept Kathleen from having a life of her own. But she also finds herself intrigued by the mysterious detective and his quest to learn the truth about Bertram Warren's death.
Did Cora kill her husband? Only the dead know for sure
The House on the Shore is 28K words long. It can be read in two hours or less.