Ailing Los Angeles newspaper reporter Irvin "Fletch" Fletcher, in debt, inherits from a aunt "Bell Isle", a sprawling 80-acre Louisiana plantation estate, quits his job and moves east expecting to live like a Dixie king. But he failed to inspect the run-down inheritance, leaving him only a shabby mansion with a shifty caretaker instead of reliable staff. Having celebrated anyway with an attractive lawyer in bed, he wakes up finding her mysteriously murdered and himself jailed, soon to be bailed, as prime suspect. Undaunted by a neighborly lawyer's warning to leave town, he waves foxy real estate agent Becky Culpepper's persistent offer well above the apparent value from a third party and starts snooping why with Becky. That proves a dangerous activity for him and almost anybody around, everything pointing to local magnate Hamilton "Ham" Johnson and his 'Confederate' circle of friends; including TV preacher Jimmy Lee Farnsworth and a dodgy chemical plant.