Lucy Rosen, a divorced woman in her late thirties, the mother of Keith and neighbor of Bethany Lee. Lucy’s parents died when she was a teenager, and she lived with relatives in Great Neck, New York, where she became a successful, popular student. After divorcing her high school sweetheart, she moved to Verity, where she writes obituaries for the local newspaper. Her primary concern is her son Keith’s increasingly delinquent behavior. She loves him intensely but does not understand him and cannot communicate with him. When Keith disappears with Bethany’s baby after Bethany is murdered, Lucy joins Julian Cash in the investigation.
Julian Cash, a police detective who trains and owns tracking dogs. Although he grew up in Verity, he maintains a distance from others in the community. Abandoned as an infant, Julian later established a close friendship with his cousin, Bobby. When he was seventeen, Julian’s car crashed into a tree, killing Bobby. His guilt over this incident still haunts him, and he cannot come to terms with his own past. Julian’s closest relationships are with his two dogs, Loretta and Arrow, and with Miss Giles, the woman who reared him. He takes Loretta with him everywhere, but Arrow is too wild to be let out of his pen except when his talent at sniffing out dead bodies is needed.
Keith Rosen, who is referred to as “the meanest boy in Verity.” As he enters adolescence, Keith is angry and confused. He has started skipping school, drinking, and committing petty crimes. He dislikes Verity intensely and wants to return to Great Neck to live with his father. Despite his rebellious attitude, Keith establishes close connections with Bethany’s baby and with Julian’s dog, Arrow.
Bethany Lee, Lucy’s neighbor. She has moved to Verity and taken on a false identity to escape her former husband, Randy, who wants to claim custody of their daughter. Her murder initiates the central plot of the novel.
The Angel, the ghost of Julian’s cousin, Bobby. In part because Julian has never returned to the scene of the fatal crash, Bobby has never been able to forgive his cousin, and he remains waiting in the small area around the tree into which they crashed.