When Henry Shipley travels home on the Lake Erie Shoreliner, he meets Ellie Strasbourg. Henry just wants to be alone, but he can’t seem to get Ellie to leave him alone. Soon, they run into the train conductor, Clarence Nockwood. Clarence takes Henry and Ellie to meet his cat Lantern Sam. When they meet Sam, Henry keeps hearing something, but it seems that only he can hear it. Henry learns that it is Lantern Sam talking and apparently only Henry and Clarence can hear him.
Not long after Henry and Ellie, she disappears and no one can find her. Henry, Clarence, and Lantern Sam must figure out what happened before they reach the next train station.
Besides the mystery of Ellie’s disappearance, readers also get to know Lantern Sam’s backstory and how he came to the Lake Erie Shoreliner. This is a preliminary nominee for the Mark Twain Award nominee.