Selmer Burks, insane with grief over the death of his only child, Laura Lee, plots the murder of the infant that caused her death. Born of the seed of the rapist, Robert Hyde, the boy child must die. The insanity that has affected his judgment all along, has at the same time, gifted his mind with a cunning clarity. Selmer makes arrangements for the return of the body of his daughter to Hyde’s Corner for burial. But these details are only a factor in a miniscule way, compared to his other murderous preparations.
Selmer recalls a secluded turnout at the bottom of a gentle swale in the road. A stopover point to stretch the legs and relieve oneself. With it's huge trees and thick brush, it will be a perfect setting to carry out the carnage he has in mind. Doctor Herman Beaman will be sacrificed. Selmer is reluctant to come to this conclusion, but nothing, not even the murder of his old friend, one of three he feels he can call friend, will deter him from protecting the only family he has left. The Township of Hyde's Corner and Sundowner County must be cleansed at last of the final remnant of Hyde taint ... Hyde evil.
That same roadside turnout, however, proves a redemption for Selmer. He is saved from making a disastrous mistake, one from which his wounded mind would never recover. The plaintive, piecing cry of the infant Selmer has vowed to kill strikes a chord deep inside his scarred and ruined soul. He begs the doctor’s forgiveness for his insane attempt to harm him and is forgiven by Beaman or so it seems.
Selmer goes on to raise the child as his own. He comes to love the boy and develops a fierce need to protect and guide him. Selmer is certain Hyde evil still infects his domain and he plans to one day stand with his grandson and kill all those fouled with the heinous Hyde taint. Burks now knows he cannot finish the fight alone. He is convinced this reason and this reason alone is why God stayed his hand at the highway turnout that day long ago.
A night of heated sex is the beginning of an illicit affair with the daughter of his best friend. As the May-December romance increases in intensity, so does the sheriff’s depression and guilt. After killing Junior Porter in self-defense, Selmer finally comes clean with Tom about his forbidden affair with Sara Tassel. Tom has developed a crush on the beautiful young Madam. Hurt, as only a young man can be by the rejection of the one he desires, Tom finally comes to the conclusion that his grandpa's affair is none of his concern. Tom remains loyal to his grandpa, but the days find Burks deteriorating at a rapid pace. On a fall day in September the rule of Selmer Carson Burks is threatened. Can Tom figure a way to save his only family from possible annihilation?