The time is the summer of 1958, the place is Dewmont, Texas. For blissfully ignorant thirteen-year-old Stanley Mitchell, the end of innocence comes with his discovery of an old trove of passionate yet troubled love letters that lead him to a long-ago house fire and the tragic deaths of two very different young women. Stanley finds a guide and mentor in black, elderly Buster Lighthouse Smith, a retired Indian Reservation policeman who now runs the projector at the drive-in theater owned by Stanley's parents. Buster tutors Stanley on the finer points of Sherlock Holmes, the blues, and life's lost dreams. But not every buried thing stays dead. And in one terrifying night of rushing creek water and thundering rain, an arcane murderous force will rise from the past to threaten the boy -- and test the limits of Buster's strength and wisdom. In the end the old man teaches Stanley a lesson that will haunt him always.