The novel is set in the Pantanal, the vast untamed Brazilian lowlands bordering Bolivia.
One bright Sunday, alone on the banks of the Paraguay River, the narrator witnesses the fatal crash of a small 'plane.
He finds a kilo of cocaine in the dead pilot's backpack.
After but a moment's hesitation he pockets the coke and the pilot's expensive watch.
Thus begins the protagonist's long slide into corruption.
When the crash site is located several days later, the pilot's body is missing and remains unfound for months despite a large-scale police search.
Our hero gets involved in a busted cocaine deal and ends up owing a Bolivian drug gang so much money that blackmailing the wealthy family of the dead pilot seems to be the only way out.
The family secretly agrees to pay serious money to recover the body of their son.
Our hero doesn't have the pilot's body so someone else's will do. Or so he thinks.