Set in remote, clannish La Burliere, it begins with the gruesome mass murder of a farm family in 1896 and picks up in 1920 when the only survivor, a World War I veteran, returns to the village. Seraphin Monge, who was a baby in his cradle at the time of the killings, knew he was an orphan but not that his family had been slaughtered. Once told by a buttinsky road-mender, he becomes obsessed with learning who did it.
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