Jelly Lovejoy, a weary young police detective in Warden, Georgia, takes off a mental health day at the demand of his chief. Jelly decides to wander about his hometown and county talking with lover, friend and foe, listening for clues, current and legendary, about the mysteries that confront him and his hometown.
Near the Florida line, semi-tropical Warden struggles with festering social problems beneath the postcard veneer of a sleepy old county courthouse, a restored downtown commercial square and the apparently prosperous retail franchise sprawl of its outskirts. Immigration of Mexican field labor has largely replaced black and white workers on the rich agricultural lands of surrounding Strickland County. Large farm corporations, remotely owned, are buying small family farms unable to compete globally. Old and new social issues jockey for local attention; while overt crimes of racism fall, thefts of property and acts of personal violence rise; an epidemic of drug use, including deadly, homemade methamphetamine, scars the police blotter weekly; turf wars between ethnic drug dealers claim lives in ruthless attacks.
Detective Jelly Lovejoy has reached a professional and personal crossroads, and commitment questions, long held in suspension, now fall to earth with the swift relentlessness of gravity.