In this novel a honeymooning couple makes friends with a marine biologist who discovers genuine mermaids in a coral reef --- and who, the next night, apparently drowns in her hotel bathtub. As a resort chain swoops in to corner the market on mermaids, the newlyweds join forces with other vacationers to protect the mermaids from the corporate "Venture of Marvels" that wants to turn their habitat into a theme park.
Susan Lindley is a woman adrift after her husband’s death. Suddenly gifted her great uncle’s Pasadena mansion, Susan decides to restore his extensive collection of preserved animals, tending to “the fur and feathers, the beaks, the bones and shimmering tails.” Meanwhile, a menagerie of uniquely damaged humans --- including a cheating husband and a chorus of eccentric elderly women --- joins her in residence.
Hal, a man baffled by his wife's obsession with her young employer, T., and haunted by the accident that paralyzed his daughter, Casey. In a moment of drunken heroism, Hal embarks on a quest to find T.