When the body of a murdered eight-year-old girl is discovered in the snow-blanketed mountains, retiring Nevada homicide detective Jerry Black (Jack Nicholson) is unable to step aside. Jerry offers his expertise at the crime scene, and takes it upon himself to deliver the devastating news to the victim's parents. The grieving mother begs Jerry for answers. Faced with the tragic nature of the crime, Jerry swears on his soul to find the killer. When an ambitious younger cop wrenches a dubious confession from a simple-minded suspect, the case is closed... but not for Jerry. Despite the skepticism of his peers, Jerry follows his hunch that the real killer is still at large and set to strike again.