The bestselling, National Book Award–finalist novel that inspired Charles Laughton’s expressionist horror classic starring Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters. Two young children, Pearl and John Harper, are being raised alone by their mother in Cresap’s Landing, Ohio. Their father Ben has just been executed for killing two men in the course of an armed robbery. Ben never told anyone where he hid the ten thousand dollars he stole; not his widow Willa, not his lawyer, nor his cell-mate Henry “Preacher” Powell. But Preacher, with his long history of charming his way into widows’ hearts and lives, has an inkling that Ben's money could be within his reach. As soon as he is free, Preacher makes his way up the river to visit the Harper family where—he hopes—a little child shall lead him to the fortune that he seeks.