Gunshots on an autumn day leave a beloved local couple dead and signal the start of a vicious battle over the future of Mason County, Virginia. A powerful development company has chosen this small community in the Blue Ridge Mountains as the site of a sprawling resort for the rich, and the local people are taking sides. No one opposes the project more vocally than veterinarian Rachel Goddard, and her outspokenness complicates the job of her husband, newly elected Sheriff Tom Bridger. Many see the project as the cure for poverty and high unemployment in a dying community. Others, including Rachel, know the firm behind it is notorious for mistreatment of employees, and they’re alarmed by the prospect of the entire county becoming financially dependent on a predatory company. Rachel’s friend, horse breeder Joanna McKendrick, owns the most desirable land, and she’s fighting intense pressure to sell and make way for the development. When Joanna’s neighbors, an older couple who also refuse to give up their farm, are gunned down outside their house, it appears supporters of the project will stop at nothing to push it through. Soon a small-scale civil war is raging in the county. As the violence escalates, Rachel and Tom realize the truth behind the attacks is far more sinister than it seems, rooted deep in the poisoned ground that lies beneath Mason County’s bucolic surface.