In DEAD MAN'S HAND, Connor is on an emotional roller coaster, with hearing love interest Dan Smith and deaf advocate Josh Littlefield controlling the gears. Dan has proposed, and while she loves Dan, she isn't sure she wants to be married, since her parents divorced as a result of her deafness. Besides the fact that hearing and deaf people come from two worlds, marriage implies dependence to Connor, the one thing she's been fighting against her whole life. Josh, recently widowed and actively pursuing Connor, is single-parenting his young deaf daughter, whom Connor adores. But Josh has also grown more radical over the years, and has plans to establish a nearly self-sufficient Deaf Community at a nearby ghost town. He's recruiting other disgruntled deaf residents by securing jobs at the local-and controversial-Indian casino, where hearing isn't essential and sign language is easily understood. Deaf people feel a solidarity with the Indians, also displaced people. As the town becomes divided on several issues-medical marijuana growing, tree-sitting terrorism, anti-gambling religious cults, and reactionary survivalists-Connor senses an undercurrent of malevolence. The casino controversy is keeping Connor too busy to examine her real feelings, but her sense proves portentous. The infamous and historic landmark, the Hanging Dummy-an image of a prospector carved from wood-swings from a rope over a Flat Skunk gold-mining shop, in effigy for all the poor hanged souls of the mining years. But it's suddenly lost an ear. Connor's roller-coaster is about to pick up speed with a whole new set of distractions-the appendage turns out to be human.