While trying to start a new life, Homer’s niece uncovers a murder.
Life has not always been fair to Annie Swann. A bad marriage sullied her youth, but since her divorce she has made enough money illustrating children’s books to add a wing to her house. The new addition’s focal point will be a 35-foot blank wall, where Annie plans an elaborate mural of the fairy tale characters who pay her bills. But as she paints, mysterious markings appear on the mural: first splotches, then a woman’s face, ringed with blonde hair and covered in blood.
It seems to point to the disappearance of Pearl Small, a Harvard student who took classes from Annie’s aunt Mary. As Mary and her husband, professor and ex-cop Homer Kelly, look for Pearl, Annie continues painting, unaware that with each brushstroke, she marks her wall with another layer of evil.