Roger Jackson is a grouch. He drinks too much with the wrong sorts of people. He dislikes where he lives—Beaumont, Texas, a small, humid southeast Texas town caught between a marsh and an impenetrable forest, between racial and social strife, between rival versions of Jesus. He dislikes his job—taking photos of cheating spouses. He dislikes his past. (He could have been a lawyer.) And now, he finds himself entangled in a crime.
When the police find an aging ex-hippie dead from bullet wounds to the head and torso, they find Roger’s photos and want his help. Surrounded by a cast of colorful characters, Roger must do his job while maneuvering around the dangerous agendas of those around him. But the greatest obstacle is the recurring cocaine trail leading to Jewel McQueen, a small-time crook, who is guarded by his sociopathic brother, Sunshine McQueen, who hears voices from Jesus, Satan, and his mother. Jewell will stop at nothing—even murder—to keep his demented brother out of prison.
Roger must leave the enclosed suburbs with their exclusive, prim, cleaned-up Jesus and cheap cocaine and liquor habits and, with his new partners, venture “behind the pine curtain,” into the deep Piney Woods with its wild, unruly Pentecostal Jesus and meth-lab economy and mentality.