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Ten year-old Emily Shane is struck by a hit and run driver on a darkened street in the fictional town of Hope, Georgia. There are witnesses, but the reports are confused and conflicting. Was it a resident? A stranger driving through? Or someone else?

Pat, Emily's father, deepens the town's shock by accusing local businessman Phil Aggee of the crime. Police Chief Davis Anderson begins an investigation, but he doesn't seem to pursue it with the zeal the Shane family expects. Pat continues to challenge Anderson's investigation, and after the Chief jails Pat for interfering, brother Jason Shane reluctantly takes over the family's separate pursuit of Emily's killer. He and an old Vietnam War compatriot, Wilton Byrd, begin to uncover evidence Anderson hasn't revealed. As their investigation gropes toward resolution, Hope is upended by more deaths, leaving emotional loose ends to be tied up within both the Shane family and the town of Hope.

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