Walter Finch was a crime author who lived in Umkumiut, Alaska. When a fan of his books, Kay Connell, came to visit him, he began a relationship with the girl, buying her clothes and jewellery. However one night he got rough with and beat her to death, then washed her hair and scrubbed and clipped her fingernails to remove all traces of his involvement.
When the radio put out the story that the police were looking for the bag Kay had with her when she died, he realised he had left it in a fishing cabin so went to retrieve it. However, the police were waiting for him and moved in on the cabin. He escaped down a tunnel onto a beach, and was caught by officers Will Dormer and Farrell Brooks. He shot Brooks and ran off, witnessing Dormer accidentally shooting his own partner Hap Eckhart. Finch dropped his gun and escaped. The next he visited the Pioneer Lodge where Dormer was staying, and told Rachel Clement the owner that he was Dormer's new partner.
The following night, Finch called Dormer's hotel room and told him that he saw what Dormer had done, but wouldn't tell anyone about it as long as they helped each other. He refused to give his name, but sympathised with Dormer's sleeping problems. The next day he called Dormer again, asking why he hadn't told anyone about shooting Eckhart. When Dormer suggested meeting up, Finch ended the call. Later that day, Finch returned to his apartment to find the the piece of paper he kept jammed at the top of his door had fallen out, so realised someone was there. He ran off, pursued by Dormer who was in his apartment, but escaped over the river by climbing over floating logs. Dormer attempted to follow but fell into the water.
Suspecting Dormer would go back to his apartment, Finch called his own number and told Dormer he could have a shower if he wanted. He called again and agreed to meet Dormer on a ferry the next day. When they met, Finch told him he had great respect for the police profession, and that he didn't mean to ever hurt Kay. He told Finch that he had to find a patsy to arrest for Kay's murder or he would tell everyone about Hap's death and all the people Dormer had arrested would be freed. Dormer agreed, and told Finch that they had found a signed copy of one of his books at Kay's place so he would be brought in for questioning. He then got off the ferry, and as he did showed Dormer he had been recording their entire conversation, keeping the tape as his "wildcard".
That night he called Dormer again, and went through how they would frame Randy Stetz for the murder. He then talked through the murder of Kay with Dormer. He also found the .38 gun he had used to shoot Brooks with, planted in his heating vent, so he took it and planted it in some motor oil at Randy Stetz's apartment. The next morning he was brought in and questioned by Fred Duggar, Ellie Burr and Dormer, and told them about his relationship with Kay. He told them that Randy had a gun which he showed to Kay, and kept in his heating vent. Dormer then started aggressively asking about Finch and Kay's relationship, before starting to attack Finch. He was restrained and left the building.
That night he met with Dormer on a road, and Finch gave him the tape of their conversation. Dormer destroyed it, then grabbed Finch and asked if there were any copies. Finch said he didn't have any other copies, then Dormer drew his gun and pointed it at Finch. Dormer then said he was going to tell the police everything, but Finch talked him out of it. He then drove away.
The next morning Finch was at his summer house at Lake Kgun, waiting for Ellie Burr to come pick up his letters from Kay. However, he had left his letters at his apartment and was planning to kill Ellie when she arrived. He pretended to search for the letters, revealing Kay's red dress, before knocking out Ellie. Dormer then arrived, but Finch explained he had everything under control and was taking care of Ellie because she knew he killed Hap. Dormer demanded to see Ellie, and as Finch shouted for her he ran off, slashing Dormer with a saw. He started beating the detective, but Ellie burst in and pointed a gun, so Finch ran off.
He got into a shed and grabbed a shotgun, which he began firing at the two police officers. He kept shooting until Dormer crept up beneath him in the water and attacked him. The two men fought, and Dormer grabbed the shotgun, but Finch produced Ellie's gun as his "wildcard". The two shot each other, and both died.