At first sight, London, Maine seems to Bill Williams the perfect place to retire to. “Life the way it’s supposed to be,” as the brochures say, face to face with the calm and beautiful London Lake, surrounded by deep, whispering pine forests and the stark backdrop of bare granite hills. It’s even a great place for dogs, with trails to follow everywhere through the woods and a great dog park right in the center of town where they can all run and play together. And the people are friendly too, though they do tend to gossip – particularly Andy Basset, another retiree, who is obsessed by the mystery of events that occurred seventeen years before at a high school graduation that still casts a shadow over the lives of the London members of the class. But Bill has had years of experience in ignoring idle gossip, and he sees no reason why London’s variety should receive any more attention.
Then someone starts killing the local dogs, and life in London quickly turns from idyll to nightmare, a nightmare, Bill begins to suspect, that arose somehow from whatever really did happen at that high school graduation so many years before. And he becomes ever more certain that the person responsible for the horror is one of his new neighbors and acquaintances.
But which one? It could be any of them: Eleanor Bird, the village tyrant, who collects other people’s secrets and exploits them ruthlessly; her son Eddy, a preoccupied country realtor who, people say, isn’t at all as simple as he seems; Roy Emory, once the boy genius who went off to college and wound up in jail on drug charges and now lives as a hermit back in the London woods; his parents, Charlie and Kristin, who are afraid of him and struggling over a failing business; Rosie Brig, a subservient school teacher who becomes infatuated with the wrong men, first Roy Emory and then Sean Winder, the high school hero who gave up on college to run his father’s general store and marry the shy and self-effacing Patricia instead of his fiancée Rachel Morgan, who, recently widowed, has returned to London to claim him; or Linc Mundy, owner of the local garage and a professed dog hater. Bill has a terrible feeling that, if the truth isn't discovered soon, things could get a lot worse.
And then people start to die….