A private investigator fights inner demons and evildoers alike in a tortuous case whose roots go back many years.
Earl Marcus has recently lost the sheriff’s election to Preston Argent, a corrupt and feckless puppet of the even more corrupt white supremacist Jeb Walsh. So when he finds a dead man on his lawn, he’s certain that calling the police will be a bad idea. In the absence of his girlfriend, Atlanta cop Mary Hawkins, who’s off in Nevada helping with family problems, Earl’s boosted his drinking to a degree that alarms even his closest friends, Rufus, who's blind, and the loyal Ronnie, who’s just gotten out of jail for his role in helping Earl in his last case (In the Valley of the Devil, 2018). The one hint of the dead man’s identity is a cryptic letter he’s carrying addressed to Joe by Dr. Blevins. Earl goes to great pains to hide both the body and the car Joe arrived in, but his conscience forces him to investigate. Earl gets a librarian friend to research Blevins, a teacher who now works at the Harden School for young men with problems. When Earl and Ronnie visit the school pretending to be relatives of a troubled boy, they’re turned away but sneak off to investigate further. Earl stumbles upon a nearby waterfall that’s inspired legends of a utopia on the other side for anyone who can jump over it. He’s not the only one tempted by an alternative to his real life. Rufus also has a troubled past going back to his days working at the Harden School, where gay boys are subjected to conversion therapy. Past and present collide as Earl crisscrosses a North Georgia mountain area that harbors many a secret.
A flawed, likable protagonist uses violent methods to solve a complex, compulsively readable case.