April 10, 1845: A monstrous fire rips through Pittsburgh, destroying one-third of the city and leaving four thousand people homeless. Amazingly, the disaster claims only three lives. Or does it? City Constable John Parker and a group of night watchmen discover the body of a young girl among the rubble of a destroyed building. Others assume she died as a result of the fire, but Parker’s mind is flooded by memories of a similar discovery in his boyhood, and he discards the idea that the girl’s death was an accident. Compelled by his haunting memories, Parker embarks on his own investigation and discovers that this is the latest in a series of murders stretching back seventeen years. His search for the killer takes him throughout the young city of Pittsburgh and into the hinterland of Western Pennsylvania, but all answers lead him back to The Burnt District.
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