Dan Kelly, a banking executive in exile, his personal life in shambles, has been dispatched by his Mississippi-based bank to gain a foothold in Texas, a precursor to eventual expansion throughout the moneyed Lone Star State. He settles in among the labyrinth of towering pines and thick hardwoods in the area referred to by natives as Deep East Texas, a region barely known to exist by those who have never ventured into the area. Surprised and intrigued by the amazing secluded beauty of his new surroundings, and bored by his mostly self-imposed existence, Kelly begins a secret, part-time endeavor offering parcels of land to potential buyers beyond state borders, utilizing ads placed in regional newspapers in neighboring states.
An elderly couple, presenting themselves as a retired industrialist and his wife from Ohio, answers one of the ads, then quickly purchases one of the parcels located in the deepest part of the East Texas woods, in rural San Gabriel County. Unbeknownst to Kelly, the couple is acting as a front for a brutal, murderous crime syndicate leader, recently forced to flee northern Ohio due to the death of a sheriff who became too nosy.
Slowly becoming aware of the danger he has wrought on the trusting natives of San Gabriel County, highlighted by the death of at least one local citizen, Kelly begins a desperate search to undo the damage he has ushered into the beautiful East Texas forests. His frantic efforts lead him from Dallas to Houston, and eventually to Knoxville, Tennessee, as his own life descends into danger. His odyssey comes to a violent end on a dark September night, as he faces his own mortality in a life-and-death confrontation in the now-threatening thickets of the East Texas woods.