By blood, bone and history, Austin Bullock is now chief of his nation, responsible for maintaining the welfare of his people and the land. By choice, he left the reservation years ago to teach high-school history, to coach basketball in the white man's school, and to seek an identity apart from his Native American heritage. Now the waters of Lost Man Marsh and the song of the Tie-snake call Austin to return. Someone outside the Nation has sinister plans for the people who live there.
It's Memphis in May. There's the International Barbecue Contest, the Cotton Carnival...and now two murders. And it is all on the shoulders of failed cotton farmer and current Memphis homicide detective J.W. Ragsdale to solve both crimes before the tourists start leaving in droves.