is set in the southern Kentucky
cave country in 1962. Arnie Travers and
Morgan Hargett are lifelong friends who have taken to exploring caverns in the
region hoping to find one interesting enough to develop and exploit through
public display. The story begins with
the proceedings of a coroner's inquest into the death of Morgan who has become
trapped in a cave that he and Arnie are exploring. He apparently has fallen into a pit inside
the cave and died of his injuries. Arnie
has found his way out and summoned help for Morgan, but too late.
During the inquest Morgan's wife
accuses Arnie of murdering Morgan and reveals that she and Arnie have had an
affair and have planned to go away together.
Arnie's testimony convinces the jury that the affair had ended and that
he has held no grudge against Morgan.
The coroner's jury is sent out to deliberate the verdict and most of the
members who have known Morgan and Arnie for several years are ready to rule it
an accident. One member, a young man new
to the town, demurs. He thinks this is a
rush to judgment and he wants further discussion of the other two possible
verdicts - murder or suicide. He is
finally beaten down by the others of the jury and a verdict of accidental death
is returned. But has justice been served? How have we arrived at this moment? The book recounts the events leading up to
the time of the inquest to reveal the startling facts behind the death.