Sam Simoneaux’s troopship docked in France just as World War I came to an end. Still, what he saw of the devastation there sent him back to New Orleans eager for a normal life and a job as a floorwalker in the city’s biggest department store, and to start anew with his wife years after losing a son to illness. But when a little girl disappears from the store on his shift, he loses his job and soon joins her parents working on a steamboat plying the Mississippi and providing musical entertainment en route. Sam comes to suspect that on the downriver journey someone had seen this magical child and arranged to steal her away, and this quest leads him not only into this raucous new life on the river and in the towns along its banks but also on a journey deep into the Arkansas wilderness. Here he begins to piece together what had happened to the girl - a discovery that endangers everyone involved and sheds new light on the massacre of his own family decades before.