Just how far will an Arkansas preacher go to conceal his sin from his family and his congregation?
Everyone in Stock knows the Rev. Richard Weatherford, the pastor of the First Baptist Church. They know he’s a man of God, a devoted father to his five children, a staunch vote against allowing liquor into Van Buren County, and a reliable helper in distress. And all this is true. Even so, college dropout Gary Doane is convinced that everyone from Brother Weatherford’s wife, Penny, to his church deacons would see him a lot differently if they knew about his secret fling with Gary, and that’s why he wants $30,000 to go away quietly. Unable to put his hands on that kind of money, Weatherford passes the early hours of the day before Easter striking a devil’s bargain with Brian Harten: He’ll drop his opposition to the liquor store Harten’s hoped to open—he’ll even talk the other voters out of keeping the county dry—if only Harten will give him the money. Of course Harten, who quit his job at Tommy Weller’s bar on the strength of his dreams and started the day by watching his car get repossessed, is even more broke than Weatherford, so he hatches a deeply misbegotten plan to raise the cash. His plan will eventually suck in Weller; Sarabeth Simmons, the daughter of Weller’s lover, Carmen Fuller; and Penny Weatherford, who’s forced into an impossibly ugly position. As the principals take turns plotting their next moves, never thinking more than five minutes ahead, things predictably spiral out of control with all the horrifyingly matter-of-fact force of Scott Smith’s parable A Simple Plan as Hinkson (No Tomorrow, 2018, etc.) leads his all-too-human hero step by step into a monstrous pool of corruption.
The whole sad carnival comes crashing to an unforgettable halt just in time for the world’s most macabre Easter.