Many changes come to Sparta. Virgil Tibbs has left the Sparta Police Department and he, Althea and their twins have returned to Philadelphia, PA so Virgil can complete his law school studies. Bill Gillespie has been voted out as chief and is replaced by FBI Agent Hampton Forbes from Memphis, TN. Forbes inherits the case of a reclusive man who is murdered as he is awaiting trial for manslaughter.
Gillespie gets the last laugh against the city council when he is named Newman County Sheriff to replace an ailing Will McComb, who has suffered a heart attack. As county sheriff, Gillespie's first case is that of a triple murder, where the investigation points to a good natured, mentally challenged teenage boy.
Gillespie and Forbes become fast friends when both police forces team up and solve the triple murder. Attorney Wade Hatton returns to Sparta and hopes to rekindle a romance from the past with Sarah Hallisey.
Angela Dolphy, Chief Forbes's fiancée, is in Sparta from Memphis for a week to entice Forbes to change professions before they get married. The chief arranges a dinner with Bill Gillespie and Harriet DeLong to coax Angela to relocate to Sparta. An example of Forbes's work is the new boxing program for at risk young men. Unfortunately, the finest boxer, African-American Kevin "Cat" Brooks, is involved with a professional burglar, Caucasian Dennis Cantrell, in a series of home invasions and robberies. Forbes and Angela must come to terms with their personal goals and ...
Jazz musician Ches Collins returns to Sparta and it is soon evident that he has a history with Cordelia, the grande dame of Sparta. Cordelia's nephew, Raoul, will stop at nothing to put and end to any hope of a union between the two. So it is up to Cordelia's other nephew, Lonnie Jameson, to put an end to Raoul's antics.
Womanizer Frank Davenport is the general contractor on a large residential project in Sparta that threatens an area of slave artifacts. He is also having a torrid affair with his new secretary, Cindy Jenk, whose father Gus is a protective hot head. There are hard feelings, even fights, among the townspeople who either support or oppose stopping the construction project to save the antiquities. It is a toss-up who will get to Davenport first.
In a somewhat comical episode, Parker's stepfather returns to Sparta with his new wife and runs Parker out of house and home. Among Roy's possessions is an ornate painting, the value of which Roy is unaware.
A newspaper misprint makes Bill Gillespie the target of an escaped killer in the days leading up to he and Harriet's wedding. Bill and Harriet are married in a beautiful, simple ceremony with Chief Forbes serving as best man.
The investigation uncovers evidence of statutory rape and drug dealing within the cult. It is further complicated by the actions of an overly aggressive newspaper reporter, as well as the discovery of school age children being members of the cult. But in the end, teamwork pays off and everyone is driven out.