In a rural village alongside the Mississippi, halfway through the 1870s, life is rather boring. The days are filled with gossiping about the next-door-neighbor, When one day a stranger appears the village is curious. Why would anyone decide to move here?
Years go by and the man, James Lester, becomes a well-respected school principal and local hero, leading the village to a brighter future.
But then, only days before Christmas, he is found dead. The crime scene is vile and what is more peculiar, is that James is found with an eerie smile on his dead face. And he is only the first victim.
14-year-old Adeline Greene, whose urge for adventure, unquenchable curiosity and dangerous naivety do her more bad than good, decides to do some investigating into the murders herself.
Has James' secret past finally caught up with him? Has the legal fight for the mansion on the hill become fatal? Are the ghost stories spread by quirky journalist Fred not as far-fetched as they seem? And why are all the seemingly unconnected victims found with a mysterious grin on their face?
Soon Adeline finds out that the ghost she has been chasing is not as inhuman as she had thought.
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