John Steinbeck said something like "You can't go home again because home is just a memory." Private Detective Janus Payette sets out to challenge that premise when he's called to his hometown to investigate the killing of a friend's husband. He learns early on that any memories he held before about his oil-soaked upbringing had long ago been extinguished. Taft is one of several small towns on the western side of the valley that float atop a lake of oil lusted after by scores of drillers and pumpers. In his effort to solve the killing he ends up ruffling the feathers of oil companies pipe outfits, farmers and most of all, local law enforcement. In the course of his investigation, three people are killed and Janus comes close to being the fourth. Janus solves the murder of his friend's husband and in the process scratches the scab off of a simmering scheme by an oil company to develop fracking wells across the valley Janus reignites friendships with long-forgotten school mates and strikes up a romantic connection that may have some long-lasting effect on his return home.