A dead body floating by a pier. An elderly woman curled up on a bed in a department store. A psychiatrist searching for her own identity. These are the pieces of the puzzle that, in John Sedgwick's masterful novel of psychological suspense, begin to come into focus when Madeline Bemis is referred to the treatment of Dr. Alice Matthews at Montrose Psychiatric Hospital.
Mrs. Bemis's treatment gradually peels back the layers of a disturbing past whose shameful secrets and hidden sorrows stem from the war years of the 1940s and reveals an unexpected link to the floating corpse. Mrs. Bemis's awakening sparks an intimacy between the two women that goes beyond an ordinary doctor/patient relationship but also makes it clear that Mrs. Bemis's recovery, and perhaps even her safety, depends on quickly coming to terms with her secret history.