One quiet spring day in 1989, Constance Tepper arrives from Philadelphia to watch over her mother's Brooklyn apartment and her orange cat. Con's mother, Gert, has left town to visit her old friend Marlene Silverman in Rochester. Marlene has always seemed alluring and powerful to Con, and ever since Con was a little girl, the long-standing bond between Gert and Marlene has piqued her curiosity. Now she finds herself wondering again what keeps them together.
Con's week in Brooklyn will take a surprising turn when she wakes to find that someone has entered her mother's apartment and her own purse is missing. Stranded, with no money, she begins to phone family and friends. By the end of that week, she will experience a series of troubling discoveries about her marriage, her job, and her family's history, and much of her life will be changed forever.
In the fall of 2003, now living in Brooklyn and working as a lawyer, Con has almost forgotten that strange and shattering week. But a series of unsettling reminders and surprising discoveries—including traces of a lost elevated train line through Brooklyn—will lead to grief, love, and more questions. At last, a confrontation between Marlene and Con's daughter will unravel some of the mysteries of the past.