Between raising his precocious teenage daughter and dodging the matchmaking of the local busybodies, Jackson Crain devotes himself to the curious peccadilloes of being a judge in tiny Post Oak, Texas. Aside from the occasional brawl or beating, hard crime here is rare. That changes when Dora Hughes, Jackson's shrewish sister-in-law, is bludgeoned and strangled to death while sunbathing on her patio. Dora's henpecked husband, Ron, is accused of the crime. The man had been carrying on with a perky local waitress, and had demanded a divorce just before Dora died. But the case evolves into something decidedly sinister when a second body, a teenage girl, is found in a cornfield. And when Jackson connects both victims to a beautiful, exotic newcomer to Post Oak - a woman to whom he is dangerously attracted - the hunt for a clever killer exposes shattering secrets guaranteed to leave even the local gossips speechless.