A story of obsession and complicated family relationships.  Margaret Anne Philips is a volunteer at the Writer's Space in Bethesda, MD and the week before she and her husband are due to leave for a vacation on Maryland's Eastern Shore, she is asked to pick up a large, valuable book donation from the home of wealthy Phoebe Skagan Van Peeples.  Margaret Anne picks up ten cartons of books which she delivers to the Space but must return to the Van Peeples for two remaining boxes.  In the interim, the first ten boxes disappear and the Administrative Director asks Margaret Anne to hold onto the other two for safekeeping until the original ten can be found.  Reluctantly, she agrees, leaving the boxes in her car, thus taking them to the shore with her on her vacation.  Eventually the Space tracks down the ten "lost" boxes and Margaret Anne inadvertently reveals their whereabouts to Clovis Patterson, Van Peeples' estranged younger sister who has been waiting in the wings to receive her share of the family rare book inheritance.  Clovis then sets about stealing the whole collection after talking Margaret Anne into giving her the two boxes in her possession.