JUD OGDEN THORENSEN, a sexy young writer, pens a singular bestseller that dissects the roots of Christianity. His pen name protects him from death threats. Because of public clamor to know who he is, Jud leaves the East Coast to seek refuge in a Midwest town but, instead, places himself in fatal danger.
Jesse Redmond, a local undertaker, infuriated by Jud’s book and stricken by grief over a friend’s death, which he blames on the book’s contents, wishes he could nail its author to a cross and then discovers that he has him within his reach. With two brothers, Jesse schemes to abduct, incarcerate, and then crucify Jud. The brothers’ motive is to take revenge on Jud, whom they believe has despoiled the virginity of a brother’s fiancée. Rev. Jon Harper endangers his own sanity and status when he plays a dual role in Jesse’s scheme.
When Jud’s lover, golden-haired Mara Sylvan, a reporter, discovers that Jud is missing, she embarks on a mission to find him. Each day during Jud’s bondage, his emotional and physical suffering grows as his potential for escape declines, until Good Friday, the day of his crucifixion, when his suffering peaks and escape becomes impossible.