After Dave, a failing high-school senior, is attacked by the three Hansen brothers, he subsequently meets one of them on a deserted bike trail with his Uncle Elliot. When the confrontation leads to a freak accident, resulting in the boy's death, they decide to keep quiet about it, as Dave has motive, opportunity and method. The story is not so much a murder mystery, but will they get away with it. More
Dave Schultz, a failing high school student, is threatened by three Hansen brothers from his school, who claim Dave got their sister Sherrie pregnant. Coincidentally, Dave's father Mark, a physician, witnesses an auto accident involving Sherrie. He does his best to rescue her, but she sustains a broken neck and remains comatose. When Mark visits the family in hospital, the father gives him a check for $10,000 for 'services rendered', which Mark agonizes over whether to accept or not. Mark also dreads the arrival of his older brother Elliot, an alcoholic with little means of support.
The Hansen brothers, mad about their sister, come round to the Schultz house, when Dave is alone, and beat him up. Luckily, Elliot comes back from his trip to the liquor store and intervenes. Even so Dave sustains injuries and needs emergency care in the local E.R.
Mark gets a No Contact order, but a week or so later the Hansen boys entice Dave to come and see Sherrie, who, they say, has woken up. Dave recruits his friend Lin, and Lin's Asian cousins plus Uncle Elliot, to come along for support. The Hansen boys realize they are outnumbered and Mark, on hearing they have broken the No Contact order, insists Elliot leave in the next few days. However, Dave, who finds Elliot fun, goes on a bike ride with him as a final outing the next day.
On the bike trail they meet Jeff, one of the Hansen brothers, and, during a confrontation, Dave pushes him into some blackberry bushes. Unluckily, the vines cover a deep ditch and the boy falls several feet landing head-first on a rock and dies. Because Dave has motive, opportunity and method, and there were no witnesses, he is persuaded by Elliot not to report it, and they throw the bike in the ditch as well, hoping it will appear Jeff had an accident on his own. Next day they return to the site to wipe off any fingerprints and support the lie they only went down the trail on the second day.
The Schultz family are questioned by the police when Jeff is declared missing. During this, Dave lies about breaking the No Contact order and Mark corrects him. Mark worries Elliot will also lie, so calls, and finding Elliot in his cups, drives down to Eugene that night to make sure his story is correct.
Nothing happens for a month until a dog finds the body and bike, and the Schultz family is again questioned. At this point, Mark decides it would be better to have Elliot stay again and pays his train fare. Meeting Elliot at the station, Mark notices his brother is jaundiced probably from excessive alcohol affecting his liver. However, his work-up shows the liver to be heavily involved with a pancreatic cancer.
Elliot, when questioned by the police, messes up on some of his evidence. Later, when the DNA evidence is back, Dave's fingerprint is found on Jeff's belt buckle, which Dave passes off as being from when he was attacked by the three brothers. More difficult for Elliot to explain is his print on Jeff's bike, which Elliot suggests might also date from the attack on Dave.
A few days later, their attorney calls to say Sherrie delivered a stillborn child, but the Hansen family still wants Dave's DNA to establish paternity. This comes back showing he is not the father.
That same day Elliot is arrested and spends the night in jail then out on bail. Elliot, after hearing about the prognosis from his cancer, considers not having treatment and confessing to the boy's death before he dies, so absolving Dave. However, during his confession before the judge in the hospice, he claims that he alone went down the trail on the first day, which puts Dave in the position of having lied for Elliot.
After further questioning, Dave's file is sent to the prosecutor who recommends he attend an accountability board. This decides on counseling and community service. Dave then realizes that, from being a loner, a loser and a poor liar he has matured and even got away with murder.
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