The people living on the outskirts of Bismarck, North Dakota rarely see a crime worse than petty theft. So when a couple of residents disappear, no one guesses that they were murdered. Five key characters piece together the story: Emilia is a recent college graduate, broke, and on her way to North Dakota to care for her last living relative. Luke is an art dealer whose real passion is snowboarding. Gavin is a basketball player-turned-coach with a guilty conscience, and Caleb, a theology student, is tormented by unpredictable and unwarranted visions. The final character, known as “The Emperor of Ice Cream,” is a former psychiatrist and hypnotherapist who turns into a seemingly deranged killer, creating an unusual pattern to determine his victims.
The novel opens with the Emperor's account of his first murder, the victim being an escaped prison convict. Believing that a prisoner would hardly be missed, the Emperor indulges a murderous fantasy, and then cannot stop there. He becomes a serial murderer. As a literature aficionado (hence the title he gives himself), the Emperor of Ice Cream uses a book of poems to determine his next victims. Page by page, he finds someone who fits the poem, and kills that person. He keeps the bodies in an abandoned house in the woods of North Dakota. There, he is discovered by Emilia, who became stranded when her car broke down. She does not fit the profile of the next intended victim, so he cannot kill her. Instead, he makes her forget what she saw in that house.
Luke, Caleb, and Gavin find Emilia unconscious in her car shortly thereafter, and they take her to Luke's house in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Just as the Emperor intended, she does not remember seeing dead bodies in the house in the woods, and she is afflicted by the gap in her memory. The five characters' lives become intertwined in a series of events that lead to the shocking identity of who the Emperor really is, and what becomes of the dead bodies otherwise known as the Emperor's victims.
This report prepared by Cassie