Thad Beaumont is the author of a highly successful series of violent pulp thrillers written under the pseudonym of ‘George Stark’, but when he decides to ‘kill-off’ his alter-ego in a mock ceremony, it precipitates a string of sadistic murders matching those in his pulp novels, which are soon discovered to be the work of Stark himself. Looking like a maniacal version of his counterpart, Stark is not so willing to quit the writing game – even if it means coming after Thad’s wife and their baby.
After building his dream house, architect Newton Davis proposes marriage to his girlfriend, only to be summarily rejected. He seeks solace in a one-night stand with a waitress, never imagining that a woman he slept with once would end up posing as his wife. Gwen’s ruse is so effective that by the time Newton learns of his “marriage,” the entire town feels like they know him.
In the Salinas Valley, in and around World War I, Cal Trask feels he must compete against overwhelming odds with his brother Aron for the love of their father Adam. Cal is frustrated at every turn, from his reaction to the war, to how to get ahead in business and in life, to how to relate to estranged mother.