Judge Atlee has been a powerhouse in local politics and law in his hometown of Clanton, Mississippi for over forty years. But he is dying, and has turned into a recluse. He has summoned his two boys, Ray and Forrest, home to discuss his estate before he dies. Ray is a good son, recently divorced, a professor of law at the University of Virginia. Forrest is a black sheep to end all black sheep. Forrest doesn't show up at the appointed time, and Ray himself is too late. His father has died before any discussion could take place, and Ray is left knowing a shocking secret that he hopes only he knows. But someone else might.