Paris Trout is the owner of a store and bank for black citizens when he kills a fourteen-year old black girl in Cotton Point, Georgia. Two murders by the same man turn a small Georgia town upside down. Rosie Sayers, has been sent to the store for bullets to protect her family during a rabies epidemic caused from foxes that are biting people and filling their bodies with poison.
She's bitten before she can make it back to her shot-gun house she shares with her mama and a host of brothers and sisters. She returns to Trout's store and is waited on by Trout's who escorts her to the clinic for white people.
Her husband speaks to her with little regard and to the black towns people with even less. She knows he is a hard man who is full of hate. He thrives on making people feel less than and gains personal satisfaction by the white citizens who show him respect for running two businesses.
The police are entrusted to take her home and deliver her to her mother. Her mother throws her out refusing to believe that Rosie was bitten by a fox. She's more embarrassed at having the police at her house with her young daughter and gives Rosie away to an abusive man.
The man's name is Alvin and he starts out beating Rosie with a strap and is stops when Mary McNutt intervenes. She takes Rosie under her wing to clean her house since she spends her days cleaning the houses of two white women. Her oldest son Henry Ray is twenty-one. He buys his first car from Trout and takes Rosie for a ride where he tries to have sex with the naive girl. She is scared and he leaves her alone with the threat that she not mention what he tried to pull.
The car gets hit by a lumber truck before Henry Ray and Rosie make it back home. A gas station mechanic tells him if he has paid insurance the car can be fixed. Henry Ray goes back to Trout who tells him he has insurance but not the kind that will repair the car. He signed the papers and it is his.
Mary decides it best if Rosie go home so she can get her house back in order and deal with her hot-tempered son. She tells Rosie she can come by if her mother isn't treating her right. Before Rosie can leave Trout shows up at Mary's house outraged that Henry Ray wanted his money back and shoots Mary four times and kills Rosie.
Harry Seagraves is the DA and he knows Trout is a nasty man. He hates his job knowing that this man has murdered in cold blood and will get off because the victims are black. Trout is respected as a business owner by the white citizens of Cotton Point, but everyone knows how evil he can be.
His wife is questioned and wants no part of what he has done. She wants to go back to Los Angeles. He asks her to stay while grabbing her roughly. She too knows what he is capable of. He wants her behind the store counter so that it looks like she supports him.
When the case goes to trial Mary's children are questioned. Trout had roughed up the two youngest before killing her and Rosie. It is looking worse for Trout and the DA hates himself with each question he asks. He knows Trout is guilty and that he will walk away a free man in this segregated small- minded town.
Trout remains cocky throughout the trial. When Seagraves urges him to show some humility he reminds Seagraves that they are in his town with his people. Trout is sentenced to six-months on a work farm and seeks an appeal. He brings his gun with him to the jailhouse with plans of breaking out. He visits his ninety year-old mother in the nursing home and shoots her to death.
His character is further called into question because he has been cheating people for years as evidenced by the safes in his “bank.” Politicians get involved from other parts of the state. They don't want the bad publicity.
Trout also kills Seagraves and Carl Bonner another attorney on the case, before blowing his own head off.
His wife moved away to Savannah to teach school. She knew if she stayed in Cotton Point Trout would eventually kill her too. She was haunted by the sweetness of Rosie Sayers, a young girl who deserved justice.
Best part of story, including ending:
I didn't like the story there was too much evil and hatred.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Trout took his own life after causing misery for so many people.
Opinion about the main character:
I disliked that Trout believed he could murder people and get away with it.