After fighting for the Union Army during the American Civil War, emotionally stressed Micah Gray (a black man) is released from active service in 1866. He journeys to Jago (a sharecropping community in Mississippi) in search of his brother, Elijah, whom he has not seen in ten years.
After finding Elijah, Micah wants nothing more than to live a peaceful life. Not long after Micah's arrival, a young - black - child dies under mysterious circumstances. At first the murder is thought to be an isolated incident, but after a second child is attacked, it becomes apparent to Elijah and Micah something sinister is underway.
Lacking a sense of security, Jago's atmosphere is marred with dread as a summer filled with fear begins. No one is above suspicion as more young lives are lost, especially Micah. Unable to stop the murders without help, Elijah, Micah, and leaders within the community, turn to authorities in a resentful, war devastated, South for assistance but are met with hard feelings.
With no legal rights to stand upon to demand help, not even the right to vote, and expecting no help from southern authorities who view them not as men to be respected, but as illegally freed property, Elijah and Micah are forced to solve the mystery of who is killing Jago's children.