It's a year later, 1947, and life for Thomas Silas Burks has, if nothing else, changed radically. His grandpa, Selmer Carson Burks, Sheriff of Sundowner County and Hyde's Corner's Chief Law Enforcement Officer for forty-six years is dead. Burks was shot to death in front of Tom's eyes ... there was nothing he could do to stop it.
Tom has received a notice of draft into the U. S. Army. He has chosen to enlist so he may complete a college degree. Now, the day has arrived when he will report to the Army induction center in Oklahoma City. But there are a few "housecleaning chores" he plans to finish before catching the 6:45 a.m. bus.
His first stop is the farm of the man he once called "uncle." Now, Tom only thinks of the man as his grandpa's assassin. His intention is simple and shouldn't take long at all. It's been rumored for months Sid Tassel is talking suicide, but everyone knows those who talk suicide, seldom carry out the deed. "Uncle Sid" will quit talking and kill himself this very morning. Tom Burks will pay Tassel a visit and help him fulfill the desire he has claimed to have many times before.
His death will be messy, similar in it's barbarity to the shot Tassel fired from his .50 caliber Sharps buffalo gun. That shot took the head of Tassel's lifelong friend, Selmer Burks, off at mid-point. Portions of the sheriff's skull and brain matter splattered one of the front windows of the Sheriff's Office. It was the window on which Tom had pressed his face so tight, had he been listening, he could have heard the light cracking sounds of the glass. His face had the look of a pale, grotesque mask. A mashed, fright mask some child might wear on Halloween trick or treating night. The cannon-like explosion Tom witnessed fundamentally changed not only his life from that day forward, but because of Tassel's traitorous murder, many other lives as well. But none of the people, not even Tom, could guess how savage and brutal that change would be for all concerned.
Tom's plans also include a stop at the brothel known as The Prairie Schooner Library and Reading Room. There he will, according to his grandpa's wishes, drop off an envelope. Inside, Millie Saint Jardine and her twin sisters will discover they have a new partner ... her name is Sara Marla Tassel. Ms. Tassel has served as the Schooner's General Manager for the past few years. Tom is not happy with this portion of his grandpa's will, but there is nothing he can do to interfere at this time. Tom feels the betrayal of the Tassel family deeply and will eventually find a way to settle with Ms. Tassel. In the meantime, Sara Tassel will enjoy a comfortable and substantial living while he's away, thanks to the brain addled condition of Selmer Burks at the time of his murder. A third stop at the Hula Hut Fellowship Hall will be a true pleasure. He will deliver his last envelope to Hal and Natalie Owen. Inside they will find they are the new owners of the Hula Hut along with the building and land as well.
His last task before heading for the bus station will be to leave his grandpa's canvas carryall on Doctor Herman Beaman's front stoop. He is reluctant to drop more responsibility on the shoulders of the small town physician, but Tom is not sure there is anyone else he can trust with the explosive information provided in the records and ledgers left by his grandpa.
The years away from Hyde's Corner mature Tom Burks more than he dreamed possible. An Army career that begins brilliantly, ends ignominiously with Tom's assignment to a minor posting in Kansas. Having finished a college degree while serving in the Army, Tom attends Law school. After graduation, at the urging of Emmy Royster, Tom returns to Hyde's Corner to open a new practice following the death of Lucius Peelman, Hyde's Corner's only lawyer. He marries Emmy Royster, but is soon seduced by Sara Tassel.
Tom finds Sara's tastes and ideas intriguing and forms a partnership that leads to more evil mayhem than one mind could possibly conceive. Their liaison is immersed in sex, innovative murder and a power grab that would put a grin on the whiskered, ghostly, face of Selmer Carson Burks. That's, of course, depending on whether or not you believe in ghosts. If you do, and also believe their presence is due to their violent departure from this world, then you must believe there are those who will not rest until their deeds left undone are bloodily finished. By whom, you ask? Perhaps those humans whose lives, you might say, are in the gunsights of a ghost.