Detectives Goren and Eames investigate the brutal murder of a probation officer, run over by a car three times.
The investigation leads Goren and Eames track down the last person to see her alive, an academic whose juvenile delinquent son becomes their prime suspect. They also suspect her boyfriend, a respected college anthropology professor, who is the father of the troubled teenager. The professor then confesses to the crime, supposedly to protect his son. But they soon learn the victim's family is a nomadic group which goes around the country committing frauds on a seasonal/regular basis.
As they probe further and deeper into the crime, Goren and Eames connect a few dots and discover that the dead woman vehemently opposed to that lifestyle, which she intended to change for at least one relative, her niece - a young girl who may be used as a family restitution for a debt of her parents. Then, the detectives begin to take a closer look inside the clannish family.