Jerry Somerset is about to become a father and is next in line for Sheriff after his boss Little Dan’s elected to Congress. Solving the case of a recent drug-driven murder would impress the town, but he can’t get his half-brother Andrew, a recovering addict, mixed up. Jerry’s been a positive influence, contrary to the young man’s alcoholic father and begins concealing facts that might incriminate Andrew.
The Sheriff’s father Big Dan Calhoun sets his eyes on Jerry, providing advice, grooming him to take over. In the seasonal Lottery for elk hunting, both Jerry and Big Dan are winners. Big Dan loans him an expensive rifle and makes Jerry a generous offer: one of his vacant beautiful homes.
Jerry continues to investigate but grows suspicious of Andrew, and realizes he must choose between arresting him as the law demands, or protecting him, as the family demands. The promise of a better life; ambition influence him. He arrests Andrew. But, before any procedures transpire Andrew takes his own life in prison.
After the election, Jerry becomes Sheriff. His wife and baby move into the house and he’s on his way to becoming important. But, his mother and stepfather blame him for Andrew’s death.
Ultimately, Jerry discovers Andrew was innocent; that Big Dan was playing him all along to keep the attention off the real murderers; that Andrew was helping his step-father in a scheme of his; that Andrew's midnight hours were actually innocent adventures of a man unsure of his sexuality.