To escape his troubled past, Norman heads to the Utah desert to lose himself in work. Having just received a research grant he plans to study the ghost towns and now-obsolete mines littering the inhospitable landscape. But when he comes across a desert-dwelling group of outcasts, and is taken captive by their charismatic yet ever-watchful leader, he is introduced to an alternate way of life that both repulses and attracts him. As Norman struggles to find his place and make sense of this strange new world - with its perverse and unorthodox practices - he must decide whether to take his chances and run, or yield, and risk becoming one of those around him.
Ireland's refined and sparse prose cut through to the dark heart of the American dream in this chilling novel about the complex relationship between the primitive and the civilized, the living and the dead.