Oklahoma City detective Buck McDivit learns he has an aunt in Deception, Texas, an overnight stop on a barely remembered landlocked waterway once plied by riverboats carrying cotton from Jefferson, Texas, to New Orleans. There's a problem. Someone murders the old lady before Buck has a chance to meet her. When Buck investigates he finds a sleepy backwater town where riverboats once reigned and cotton was king. Some things haven't changed. An undercurrent of racial prejudice ebbs just beneath the town's touristy veneer. Also crime, cover-ups and conspiracy. He soon meets the beautiful Lila Richardson, local antiquities expert and heir to the Richardson cotton plantation, and is instantly enamored. There's also the matter of a sunken riverboat filled with Confederate gold and the ghost: a girl murdered more than a century ago.