Late one winter afternoon in upstate New York, George Clare comes home to find his wife murdered and their three-year-old daughter alone -- for how many hours? -- in her room down the hall. He had recently, begrudgingly, taken a position at the private college nearby teaching art history, and moved his family into this tight-knit, impoverished town. While his parents rescue him from suspicion, a persistent cop is stymied at every turn in proving Clare a heartless murderer. Behind one crime are others, and more than twenty years will pass before a hard kind of justice is finally served.