Salem Falls is a modern-day rendition of the famous play "The Crucible" and follows the path of Jack St. Bride, a recently released prison inmate. Jailed due to the fantasies written in a teen girl's diary, Jack is determined to keep as far away from crush-prone teenagers as possible, but working as a dishwasher in the town's diner he's soon targeted as a challenge by the town's princess, Gillian Duncan.
The daughter of a powerful pharmaceutical company owner and a practicing Wiccan, Gilly is determined to ensnare Jack despite his firm rebuffs of her childish attempts at seduction. One night, after an argument with his new girlfriend, Jack decides to drown his sorrows at the local bar. Afterward, walking home he stumbles upon Gilly and her coven in various stages of undress celebrating Beltane in the town's cemetery but is too drunk to understand what he sees. Back home he's reconciled with Addie when the cops show up and arrest him for the alleged rape of Gillian Duncan.
Addie is stunned and the town rallies behind Gillian. Following a hunch, Addie searches out Jack's first accuser and finds a sad fearful teenager zealously safeguarded by her rigidly controlling pastor father. Unable to convince her to return and give testimony, Addie returns to SF to support Jack through out the remainder of his trial.
Another gripping and well-researched novel by Picoult, I highly recommend it.