Wounds and prejudices stemming from the Civil War, the Great Depression and other conflicts run deep in the Ozark hill country. These frailties, like the scab of a putrid wound, will from time to time reopen and ooze pus. In the tumultuous year of 1968, a farmer stumbles onto the gruesome scene of a hate crime: the lynching of a young gay man whose mangled body has been left hanging from a tree. Clues abound, but the investigation withers and dies. Thirty-eight years later, Aubrey Hatfield and the citizens of Campbell County get a second chance to grapple with man's greatest vice - the refusal to see wrong and do something about it.
The life journey of protagonist Aubrey Hatfield contrasts the culture of the turbulent Sixties with today's culture, and ponders how we should adapt to or resist the ever-changing notions of right and wrong. Thus, Gay Panic in the Ozarks is a disturbing story of the culture war that society is waging on itself. Brusque but humane, the novel examines love, hate, morality, honor, and duty - the things that inform and shape our destiny.