When the body of Tomek Powierza, a young distillery worker, is found in the forest outside Jadowia, Leszek, a young farmer, seeking to expand his family's holdings, decides to uncover the truth surrounding the death. Meanwhile, Communism has receded from Europe; and Poland, like other countries, is struggling to rebuild its economy and society. Against this backdrop of a culture in transition Leszek becomes an amateur sleuth, gathering clues. His investigation leads him to confront the former state apparatchiks and the Church's pious and impotent priests. A series of strange thefts - stones from the foundations of old houses - may or may not be connected to Tomek's murder. As Leszek moves closer to the truth he realizes that larger forces - ancient prejudices and blood feuds - are ultimately at the root of this mystery. He recognizes, too, that the answer to the puzzle will be found in the dark woods that sprawl beyond the town, where the past and the present come together in the novel's surprising and powerful climax.