Brunonia Barry says The Fifth Petal is the most "challenging" story she has discovered.
In this complex novel, which is part mystery, part thriller, and part love story, she ties seventeenth century Salem with present day Salem.
Mostly, its Callie Cahill's story, a survivor, who witnesses a horrific crime when she is only five years old.
Rose, a historian, took descendants of the original women accused of witchcraft, all young girls, to Proctor's Ledge. She intends to sanctify the ground where their ancestors were hung. One of the young girls, however, is absent.
Tragically, more blood is shed that day. An unknown assailant massacres the women who have gone to honor their ancestors. Rose claimed a banshee killed the girls but many suspect Rose.
Rafferty, the detective, who married Towner from The Lace Reader tries to decipher who the 5th petal is or who the 5th descendant of the accused. The 5th petal is in all likelihood the killer.
In current day Salem many of the families are related to the accused or to the judges. A centuries old rivalry between the Hawthornes and the Whittings could cause a rift between Callie and her growing love for Paul Whitting.