Olivia is an unsettled art history lecturer who is consulted in the restoration of a painting which was severely damaged in an attempted robbery. During her inspection of the work by the obscure impressionist artist, Desquenne, she uncovers a paper inside its canvas which scathingly accounts the irresponsible life of a man known only by the shorthand name, Arm. Initially, the discovery is just an academic curiosity, but Olivia quickly finds that more Desquenne paintings contain papers describing family turmoil and unexplained deaths, along with antique photographs and a key. Olivia soon meets the alluring Nancie, a cleverly calculating though isolated Bordeaux art dealer, whose own client, Nicolas, has a shady past with piercing connections to Desquenne. Olivia desperately wants to understand her late father's obsession with the painter, and she must discover not only her father's extensive role in what skeletons the paintings hold but also her own immediate relation to their contents. From her Nova Scotia home, her travels take her through the English Midlands and to a French vineyard where she encounters a startling atrocity left by Arm and his son, entombed deep within the family estate's wine cave.