I ponder a lot, about these characters who stay in small towns where they're miserable. I really ponder why this town continues to exist. Seems like such a tragedy in a town that barely qualifies for a truck stop (with no gas station...where do people gas up?). the kindest thing would be for the whole town to die. And of course, I wonder why something like what happened would keep being rehashed.
So basically, the past is that the H's father, a Korean war vet, had...issues...from his time there. And the H's mother, freaked out by him, left with the H, then a 2 year old. 15 years later, he snapped during the 4th of July, and shot a bunch of people. It is implied that prior to this, a bunch of animals in the area turned up dead, at his hand. The h was the lone survivor among the victims - she was shot in the knee.
The H has spent the last 15 years having people look at him suspiciously due to who his father was. I kinda puzzled at that. His almost-step-father insists that he go back to his parents' home town and well, figure things out.
The h has become, whether she wanted to or not, the town martyr. She wants out. The town judge took her in by marrying her (he's dead now), and well, everyone takes care of her...until she sleeps with the H, then they turn on her like rabid dogs. (see "why do people remain in small towns when they're miserable?"). He stays away for a bit and they sort of forgive her, deciding she's been victimized again (well, yeah - by them).
In the meantime, someone is planning on recreating the tragedy. The H's reappearance is v. convenient as everyone suspects him. The person makes their move against the h, the H for whatever reason goes back and gets her untied, then they go and avert disaster.
As stated earlier, I don't get why the h had stayed there. I don't get why she let herself get railroaded into a marriage (no relatives apparently). I don't get a lot of things about this set up really.