CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA, OCTOBER 1970 - On a chilly autumn night in this chic and cultured Southern university town, two teenaged girls named Mary Jane Mears and Jeannie Arnold are brutally raped and murdered. The killers are never caught or identified, and over the years the case is buried in musty files in police basements. CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA, OCTOBER 1996 - Twenty-six years later, autumn returns to Carolina. So does Matt Redmond, a hardened and embittered veteran DEA agent who has left his career in Washington and come home to solve the killing of the two girls, one of them his high school sweetheart. In an ironic twist, Matt's pursuit of the secret of his first love's death brings him another. A proud and struggling single mother, Heather Lindstrom, comes to share his passion for truth and justice for the victims. But there is danger in disturbing the skeletons in Chapel Hill's academic closet, for behind the horrific 1970 slayings lies one of the dirtiest and most dangerous secrets of the Vietnam protest era. The most powerful men and women in the land want Matt Redmond off this case, and they will do whatever is necessary to stop him, including murder. The price Matt and Heather pay for the truth may be their own lives.