When Artemus Ackerman, retired magician and mayor of Calendar, hears about the first fire on Sabbath Street, he sends his publicist, Maggie Wakeling, to the fire department to find out what caused it. He has his heart set on turning the shabbily elegant Baldwin Theater into a museum of magic, but the theater is located on Sabbath Street, and after a second and then a third fire, Sabbath Street suddenly seems to be burning down.
Artemus orders Maggie to follow the trail of char. First to Fire Marshal George Copeland; then to The Boys of Sabbath Street, who had so valiantly saved occupants from two fires; and ultimately, to the shocking revelation of what caused of all three fires. Intermixed with fascinating details about fire investigation are a little love, a little idiosyncrasy, a town full of endearing characters, and a lot of magic.