It is winter 1946 and Robert Watt, a young Army doctor, is sent to a camp in southern Poland, charged with discovering why refugees are dying of a hideous and unidentifiable disease. Is the camp being used by Russian doctors as a macabre experiment into the effects of radiation? Or are the symptoms of the disease, as Watt's misanthropic colleague Arthur Lee believes, proof of a poison that lurks within the human psyche.
This account of a young man adrift and seeking solace in medical certainties is deftly interwoven with pages from Arthur's research paper on that most enduring of folk myths, the Pied Piper of Hamelin. These parallel narratives lead to a climax that will shock, yet at the same time, resolve the mystery. Part historical drama, romance and moral allegory, this novel links early Cold War Europe with the horrific legacy of the Thirty Years War.