The Mosby family, like other thousands, migrate from the loblolly-scented Carolinas north to the Harlem of their aspirations—with its promise of freedom and opportunities, sunlit boulevards, and elegant societies.
The family arrives as Harlem staggers under the flu pandemic that follows the First World War. DeLilah Mosby and her daughter, Selma, meet difficulties with backbone and resolve to make a home for themselves in the city, and Selma has a baby, Chloe. As the Great Depression creeps across the world at the close of the twenties, however, the farsighted see hard times coming.
The panic of the early thirties is embodied in the kidnapping and murder of the infant son of the nation's dashing young aviator, Charles Lindbergh. A transfixed public follows the manhunt in the press and on the radio. Then Chloe goes missing—but her disappearance does not draw the same attention. Wry and perceptive Weldon Haynie Thomas, the city's first "colored" policeman, takes the case.
The urgent investigation tests Thomas's abilities to draw out the secrets Harlem harbors, untangling the color-coded connections and relationships that keep company with greed, ghosts, and grief.