Sheriff Jeff McQuede becomes suspicious when a robber breaks into the Coal County Museum and steals only one item - a black-and-white class photograph. Under the name Jerome Slade the photographer had printed two ominous words: never graduated.
When a body is unearthed beneath the newly demolished school, McQuede realizes Slade had not left Black Mountain the night of the spring dance. McQuede soon uncovers hidden rivalries between Slade and his classmates. When he discovers that Heather Kenwell and the woman of his dreams, Loris Conner, were rivals for Slade's affection, McQuede fears finding out the truth.
Theft, blackmail, and another brutal killing lead back to photographs taken by Black Mountain's eccentric photographer, Bruce Fenton. While others see an innocent collection, McQuede sees murder in black and white.