Transplanted New York film critic Mitch Berger is discovering a whole new world in the idyllic atmosphere of wealthy Dorset, Connecticut, not the least of which is his new love. That's Resident State Trooper Desiree Mitry, beautiful, bright, and strong-minded. Des has transferred out of her position as the highest-ranking black woman in the State Police Homicide department to give more time to the art for which she has a sure talent. Shortly after Mitch's encounter with Hangtown Frye in the town dump, his new friend suffers the worst blow of his life - his beloved daughter Moose is killed when her sister's car, which she was driving, explodes. It's very soon clear that the explosion was no accident, and Des, as one more familiar with the community than the state cop in charge, takes an advisory part in the investigation. As one of the very few Dorset citizens with whom Frye will have any truck, Mitch is involved in two directions - as a good friend willing to help as he can around the dilapidated farmhouse that is Frye's ancestral home, and as the devoted, if unlikely, lover of the police officer unofficially but very actively on the case. Meanwhile, the old town is coming to a boil over the question of a new public elementary school, one that will be built with contributions from a developer with nothing but good wishes for the education of the local children, and coincidentally a program of healthful outdoor living for those who can afford the homes he will build on the old school property. Hangtown and Mitch are among the dispute's dubious. In a climax that is a realistic and frightening version of a tour through an amusement park haunted house, the film critic and his policewoman love come close to tragedy.