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.J.W. and his partner, Tyrone Walker, sift through an unusual cast of characters, ranging from black gangs dealing crack to an heir apparent son of Southern aristocracy - and even the newly crowned Maid of Cotton. To make matters worse, someone is intent on turning out mass-market bad barbecue, the unpardonable sin in Memphis. Through all this, a power struggle for gang leadership has left bodies strewn about the Bluff City. Wondering if agrarian fever might not be so bad, J.W. takes the investigation to his home country, the Mississippi Delta. What he finds could change his life forever...or end it.