Chapter One: In which a pregnant girl's body is found, but not her head.
Blood-stained leaves testify to the killer's brutality; Arthur Carter's famous bloodhounds join the hunt; The dead girl's unborn child is exhibited in a candy jar; And a surprising clue is revealed.
Chapter Two: In which we meet the victim and her killers.
The girl's shoes identify her as Pearl Bryan; Police arrest her lover Scott Jackson; A reluctant witness is brought to Cincinnati; Jackson makes sure his friend Alonzo Walling is arrested too: And a severed head is carried round the city's bars.
Chapter Three: In which Miss Bryan's final hours are described.
New evidence links both Jackson and Walling to the murder scene; Discarded clothing is recovered from a sewer; A glass of sarsaparilla is spiked with cocaine; And a crucial witness is almost lynched for his pains.
Chapter Four: In which the first Pearl Bryan songs are heard.
The newspapers allocate everyone their roles; An ancient ballad is repurposed; Charlie Poole and others put the story to disc; The trade in souvenirs reaches a new height; And Miss Bryan's family confronts Jackson beside her open coffin.
Chapter Five: In which police utilise an ingenious listening device.
Ohio fails in its bid to retain custody of the prisoners; Jackson weeps with fear when he learns they must go to Kentucky; A wild ride through Cincinnati is undertaken; Miss Bryan is buried at last; And a charming custom begins at her grave.
Chapter Six: In which both Jackson and Walling are condemned to hang.
Each man's murder trial produces a guilty verdict; Appeals to Governor Bradley and the Bryan family prove fruitless; The prisoners decline an opportunity to escape their cells; A journalist advances her career through subterfuge; And many lies are told.
Chapter Seven: In which Jackson refuses to save his friend.
His last-minute confession is recanted; Governor Bradley stands firm; There are plans to sell the gallows wood as souvenirs; Jackson sings hymns for the watching crowd; The traps are pulled; And a cruel miscalculation is made.
Chapter Eight: In which the search for Miss Bryan's head resumes.
Theories on its whereabouts persist into the 1950s; Jackson's love letters are discovered; One of Walling's jurists dies before his time; Dr Carothers provides a memoir; And a modern bluegrass band launches the ballad into its second century.
Chapter Nine: In which desperate measure are required.
Theft is undertaken for the best of motives; Satanists gather at the Well of Blood; Cyndi gets a scare; The ballad is pruned to its chorus alone; A new Scott sleeps with Pearl; And Kate Weare's dancers give Miss Bryan her revenge at last.
Appendix: Sources and Footnotes.