Jimmy O'Brien hasn't been a criminal defense attorney for long, but he's all too familiar with the seedy side of 1970s Los Angeles. When the religious fanatic he's scheduled to defend escapes custody prior to a murder trial, Jimmy follows the bare-bones clues as far as he can. An uncomfortable interview with the boy's mother leads him to a corrupt church community in the Valley. But the more questions he asks, the more mysterious the situation becomes. Certain that the boy has returned to a boarding home for troubled youth out in a junction town near Barstow, Jimmy explores the town himself – only to find that the residents seem more intent on keeping secrets than making friends. With the help of his incorrigible legal assistant, Rita, and his extravagant friend and private eye, Sol Silverman, Jimmy persists in the search for his escaped client - and the truth behind his disappearance. He gradually discovers that the boarding home is far from what it seems, the townspeople are not who they appear to be, and the corruption of greed has gone to extravagant – and perhaps murderous – lengths.