Joseph and Martha Ward live in Fresno, California. They have five children. In 1977, their youngest son is murdered. Joseph is not the kind of man to sit back and wait for someone else to provide him with the answers.
As a pillar of the community, he has considerable influence, but is unable to get any information about his son's killer.
So, he reverts to the traditional ways of this youth. He directs his oldest son to "pick up the cross and carry it."
A sequence of events take him through the shadowy world of drugs, gambling, politics and murder; toppling underworld kingpins and several local government officials.