Nine-year-old Ned discovers his power to raise the dead when he resurrects his dog, Digby, who was hit by a truck. Later that afternoon, after a play date with his best friend and next door neighbor, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles, Ned's mother dies of a brain aneurysm. Ned brings her back; one minute later, Chuck's father drops dead. That evening, Ned's mother kisses him goodnight; the touch kills her instantly. This is the first hint that Ned has of any rules attached to his power: first touch, life; a minute's grace period before another person dies to [[BalancingDeathsBooks balance the scales]]; second touch, dead again--forever.
Nearly twenty years later, Ned--now a lonely, touch-averse man--owns a pie shop and moonlights as a private investigator with Emerson Cod, who uses the baker's unique talent in order to question murder victims. But one murder investigation proves to be of Charlotte Charles, dead at twenty-eight under suspicious circumstances. Ned revives Chuck... and cannot bear to touch her again.
He smuggles her back to his apartment above the Pie Hole, not really planning ahead; certainly not planning for Chuck to bring color and vitality and love back into his life...
In the meantime, there's still the trifling matter of Chuck's murder to be solved. Chuck herself doesn't know who killed her, but points Ned and a resentful Emerson to Boutique Travel Travel Boutique, the travel agency she used. There they discover that Chuck's killer was after a package Chuck had with her... a package that, along with the rest of her belongings, has since been returned to her aunts, Lily and Vivian.
The race is on to get the package before Chuck's killer does--preferably before he kills again.
* BlownAcrossTheRoom: The Shiny Shoes Killer.
* ChekhovsSkill: Aunt Lily's previous career as syndronised swimmer allows her to hold her breath for a long time, a skill that comes in handy when [[spoiler:Chuck's killer tries to strangle her]].
* FailedASpotCheck: Aunt Lily.
* FridgeLogic: So, Ned didn't touch Digby once before learning the rule about second touches?
* ThisBearWasFramed: A dog is framed. The cause of death was in fact being mauled, but it was done by a dog of a different breed on orders from its owner.
* WhatTheHellHero: Since Ned's power randomly picks a nearby person to kill if he leaves a corpse alive for more than a minute, Emerson is understandably pissed off about Ned leaving Chuck alive--it could've easily been Emerson who died and not the funeral director, after all.