Mark Manning gave up a career as a prominent journalist at a major daily newspaper in Chicago to take over as the owner and publisher of the Dumont Daily Register, the daily newspaper in a small Wisconsin town. Living there with his lover, architect Neil Waite, and his nephew and ward Thad Quatrain, Mark's life in Dumont is usually quiet.
At the moment, the biggest news is the forthcoming production of a new play by the local community theater group. Two local teenage boys are alternating in the lead role - one is Jason Thrush, a gregarious and somewhat egotistical athlete, and the other is Thad Quatrain. When Jason and Thad have a verbal clash during rehearsal, it is quickly forgotten by almost everyone involved. But when Jason turns up dead on opening night - leaving Thad to take over the lead role - the local gossip turns against Thad. Jason's death is soon proved to be murder and, even though he has not been charged, opinion about town has all but convicted Thad of the crime.
Sure that Thad is innocent, Mark, with the help of his lover and friends, is determined to publicly clear Thad's name. But that means finding out exactly what happened to Jason Thrush on that fatal day and Manning's investigation may place him and his loved ones in mortal danger.