The disappearance of a young Arkansas boy and his sister in 1980 triggers vivid memories and enduring questions for retired detective Wayne Hays, who worked the case 35 years before with partner Roland West. What started as a routine case becomes a long journey to dissect and make sense of the crime.
Hays looks back at the aftermath of the 1980 Purcell case in West Finger, Ark., including possible evidence left behind at the Devil’s Den, an outdoor hangout for local kids. As attention focuses on two conspicuous suspects – Brett Woodard, a solitary vet and trash collector, and Ted LaGrange, an ex-con with a penchant for children – the parents of the missing kids, Tom and Lucy Purcell, receive a cryptic note from an anonymous source.
Hays recalls his early romance with Amelia, as well as cracks in their relationship that surfaced after they married and had children. Ten years after the Purcell crimes, new evidence emerges, giving him a second chance to vindicate himself and the investigation.
Hays and West see a possible connection between the local church and the Purcell crimes. As the detectives search for one suspect and round up another for interrogation, Woodard is targeted by a vigilante group.
Wayne finds himself in a no-win situation as new clues emerge in the Purcell case. Roland wrestles with how to keep evidence secure as lawyers demand a new investigation. Amelia finds her relationship with Wayne imperiled by her writing aspirations and his jealousy.
Wayne and Roland revisit discrepancies in the Purcell case that were hidden or forgotten over the years. Among those being reevaluated is Tom Purcell, as well as Lucy Purcell’s cousin, Dan O’Brien. The glitter of Amelia’s book release is tarnished by a voice from the past.
Following up on new leads, Wayne and Roland track down a man who left the police force in the midst of the Purcell investigation. Meanwhile, Amelia visits Lucy Purcell’s best friend in hopes of gaining insights into the whereabouts of the mysterious one-eyed man.
Wayne struggles to hold on to his memories, and his grip on reality, as the truth behind the Purcell case is finally revealed.