Newly widowed Sarah opens a boardinghouse where death comes to stay.
Though the inheritance from her dearly departed Alexander was meant to set Sarah Kelling up for life, it vanishes quickly in the face of hounding from charitable organizations and the IRS. Facing the loss of her stately Back Bay brownstone, Sarah opens her home to lodgers — deciding she prefers a boardinghouse to the poorhouse. Soon she is cooking meals and serving tea for a cast of quirky residents, a cozy little family that would be quite happy were it not for the unpleasant presence of a certain Barnwell Augustus Quiffen — a man so rude that no one really minds when he is squashed beneath a subway car.
Sarah replaces her lost boarder quickly, and the family dynamic is restored. But when another lodger dies suddenly, the boardinghouse appears to be cursed. Now it will take more than a glass of sherry to soothe Sarah's panicked residents, and she must turn to detective Max Bittersohn for help before her boarders bolt.