Something horrific happened seventy years ago in the Hargraves House, and in her dying moments, Emily Hargraves realizes that she will be leaving "a terrible legacy." Following her death, her grandnephew, James Barrett, moves into the stately old house overlooking Seattle, but it's his partner, Jerry Fielding, who will inherit that legacy. Soon, Jerry begins to experience disturbing dreams and hallucinations. The two young men become convinced that the house is haunted, but by what or by who remains a mystery. It also becomes clear that Jerry's energy is tied to the house, and his health rapidly begins to deteriorate. They seek assistance from a psychiatrist who is knowledgeable in paranormal research; from a psychic who confirms that Jerry is somehow part of the haunting; and from a nosy, next door neighbor ("a self-appointed Neighborhood Watch Committee of one," Jerry grumbles) who had been a friend of Emily's for over sixty years and unwittingly holds a key to the mystery. As Jerry's health continues to decline, James desperately seeks to uncover the dark secret in his family's history that will break the past's psychic hold on his partner.

The Legacy of Emily Hargraves takes the traditional ghost story and refashions it into a contemporary tale of the paranormal, translating the hoary concept of the ghost into modern notions of altered states of consciousness, multiple personality disorder, and the lasting effects of trauma on the human psyche. Funny, spooky, sexy, and literate, it starts as a psychological thriller and ends as a meditation on the nature of the human soul.