Jude Evans, a rebellious teenager, runs away from his abusive parents and takes the bus to Philadelphia to start a life of his own. With no job, no money and nowhere to stay, Jude is relieved when he gets a ride with Leslie Diaz, a friendly, talkative girl his own age. She tells him of a place he can stay: an abandoned shop whose owners disappeared over twenty years ago. But the shop was never abandoned. Behind a locked door, Jude and Leslie discover the library of a spiritualist philosopher, Edgar Ross, and letters between him and an Annabel Castou. Jude wonders why these letters sit in a drawer in an abandoned shop; and wonders why the library is locked from the inside; and wonders what happened to Edgar Ross, Annabel, and the shop owners. Finding clues: a woman crying in the night, a trapdoor leading to the attic, a journal telling of Annabelís death, Jude and Leslie stumble upon a twenty-year-old murder. Along the way, Jude searches for the meaning of life, of death, and of love.