Living alone with his dog in the remote cabin in the Maine woods, Julius Winsome is not unlike the barren winter lands that he inhabits: remote, vacant, inscrutable. But when his dog Hobbes is killed by a hunter, that act of carelessness - or is it cruelty? - sets Julius's precarious mindset on end.
He is at once more alone than he was ever been, left with only the cabin that he was raised in, a lifetime of books, lining every wall of his home, and his grandfather's rifle from World War I, which Julius had been trained to shoot with skill and reluctance. But with the death of his dog, Julius's reluctance has reached its limit. More and more, simply and furtively, it is revenge that is creeping into his mind.