The "Bridge Tender," a courtroom drama, is a smoldering tale of murder, intrigue, and suspense set in the town of Mandeville during the first fall of the Civil War. It is October 1861, and the town's celebrated Bird Festival is about to begin, bringing many artists and travelers from as far away as Europe and the Far East to the little town just north of New Orleans. When the beautiful bridge tender of Mandeville, a slave, is arrested for murdering her owner, the town decides to give her a trial, an unheard of event for those times, and an event that brings out the best and the worst of the local citizens, who find themselves standing trial in the eyes of the world.
To prosecute the bridge tender, the town brings in a native son, a handsome Confederate naval officer. As the trial unfolds, dark secrets spill out into the open as steadily and implacably as the little blue river that runs through the center of the town spills out into the sea. A different kind of civil war soon breaks out among the citizens of Mandeville, especially when they learn that the bridge tender is pregnant with a child whose birth will turn their way of life upside down.