When fourteen-year-old Vincent Bailey stumbles upon the body of Percy Harding, president of Goliath's world-renowned furniture company, near the railroad tracks one perfect autumn afternoon, the town of Goliath is stunned: how could it have been a suicide? The company is the town's biggest employer - will it close in the wake of Harding's death? Harding's secretary, Rosamond, is the only one who might imagine how and why this great man fell, but that sense just nags at her and urges her to find out more. Harding isn't the first person to abandon Rosamond: everybody seems to, from her husband Hatley, who walked out on her years ago; to her complicated daughter Agnes, whose girlhood bedroom was papered with the maps of the places she wanted to escape to. The town is Rosamond's anchor, but it is now quivering with change and uncertainty. High school girls are writing suicide poetry. A sidewalk preacher is courting Agnes. A troubled teenager plans to burn Main Street to the ground. Rosamond reacts by taking charge, by seeking to reunite the grief-shaken community with something joyful.