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Son of a murderer, Ned Hawkins has resigned himself to an outsider’s existence until he meets Erica Romano, daughter of the town’s new doctor. Their love of the mountains overcomes their dissonant background, and they fall in love and create a life for themselves as forest rangers in the North Cascades—until the release of Ned’s father from prison disrupts the harmony.
When Erica rebels against Ned’s renewed fatalism and over-protection, her recklessness sets off a chain of disasters that begins with a near fatal accident and ends with the disappearance of Bonnie, their daughter and finding the body of Ned’s brother in the stream below their house.
The search for their child and the investigation into the death brings both face-to-face with the destructive power of their pasts. They return to their mountain home much changed.